Creating an Exciting Environment to Foster Curiosity
In the recent past, public schools were not including art, music or dance as part of their curriculum. There are still many schools in the nation where these disciplines are non-existent or appear once a month at best. For adults, the inclusion of art education classes may not seem very exciting but we find that our students pay closer attention to other lessons taught on the days that they have art or music.
Benefits of Education in the Arts
There are many studies that show that students of all ages benefit from participating in arts education. But, when students show visible improvements in other areas of the academic experience, there is no greater point of pride for their parents and teachers.
Some of the benefits include:
Sense of social equality through sharing in a new experience
Better development of technical skills
Better understanding of the purpose of following directions
Creating the basic structures of networking formation
Better health and self-esteem leading to less bullying
Applying the Same Benefits to Home Life
Skills such as eye-hand coordination, special movement and small movement skills enable students to pour milk without spilling it, using a key to open a lock and better judge distance between objects.
When students learn dance movements, they are given several instructions at one time. At home, parents are encouraged to ask the child to do two, three or four things in one set of instructions. Children become better able to remember all of the requests and are more willing to do them all without stalling – especially if the parents suggest they “dance” their way around the house while doing what they were asked.
One of the most exciting learning tools for teaching children to express their thoughts is the puppet theater. Students make simple puppets out of boxes, sticks and plastic bottles in their art classes. In their language classes, they write a story for their puppet. All comes together in the theater class when they form groups and present a puppet show using their own stories and puppets. This is an activity that can be done at home or at a grandparent’s house for a parent-child night.
One of our parents shared an idea that many others are following. Once a month, the parent [who has three other children] sponsors a Big Shot Night. Rotating turns, one child is the featured Big Shot. The other members of the family are charged with doing the child’s chores, making the child’s favorite meal, setting up the activity area and applauding loudly for the child’s performance – which could be singing, dancing, storytelling or a private art show.
Changes in Behavior with the Introduction of Art Education
None of the studies that our school relied on prepared our principles, teachers or parents for the changes that occurred in the behavior of children when art education was reintroduced to our schools. Within a few months, teachers began noticing that when children passed in the halls or were gathered in the lunchrooms, they were happier and less aggressive toward students outside their own social circles. Arguing and dominating challenges that are typical of the age groups were remarkably diminished. Children complimented other children for their artwork that was on display between classrooms.
Our school system recognizes the intrinsic value of including humanities as part of the studies that create an environment that increases curiosity in our students. The results of students that have opportunities to participate in the skills these lessons provide compared to those who are not offered these experiences shows an increase of greater comprehensive abilities in other academic classes.