501 Life Magazine | The benefits of sustained arts education
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The benefits of sustained arts education

by Brittany Gilbert

The arts are so important in a child’s education. What a lot of parents don’t know is that your child doesn’t have to be an artist or have aspirations of a career in the arts in order to benefit from all it has to offer. Simply being involved in arts education can help your child make better grades, relieve stress, make friends and participate in community service.

Arts education is at risk of being removed from a number of schools’ curriculum. There are a number of reasons, including money, and while it doesn’t make near as much money as athletic programs, it can be just as important and can provide a wealth of growth in your child.

Denise Jenkens is an art teacher at Maumelle High School and has been teaching for 28 years with more than 20 years spent in the 501 teaching arts education to high school students. Her experience supports what the Ad Council and Americans for the Arts have to say about art education. “I feel that the problem solving needed for solving open-ended assignments helps in real life situations,” Jenkens said. 

She makes these real life connections with her class and the outside world. “In my 3D design class, students are constantly solving engineering problems when they work with materials in a 3D format.”

Her art classes aren’t just about painting pretty pictures; her students must “read and then write essays, they have to measure and do simple math and solve problems that make them better thinkers.”

Parents, business leaders and community members all want high school students to be more equipped for the real world when they leave high school. As a former teacher myself, I must say one hidden gem is the extra-curricular classes that are available at so many schools. Children can benefit from classes in the fine arts area all throughout their career as a student. Simple creative assignments and activities promote motor skills and language development in toddlers and preschoolers.

Other developmental benefits of art include help with decision-making and visual-spatial skills. Before kids learn to read they can navigate a smart phone or electronic device, relying on visual information, which are cues that they get from pictures. Art education can also promote inventiveness by allowing students to express themselves and take risks as well as promote cultural awareness by respecting the creation of another artist.

Introducing your children to the arts is simple, and you can include art in your routine in several ways. For preschool age children, it’s as easy as having an arts and crafts time. Most parents have markers, crayons, some paint and brushes, and kids love to get messy. Instead of buying store bought cards, consider having your children make a card for loved ones. They can be creative and the family will get a keepsake. There are so many resources now, like Pinterest, which can give parents ideas for age-appropriate activities and crafts. Consider introducing your children to the arts in both home and school settings. You may be surprised at all of the benefits. Also, support the arts programs in public schools. It would be a shame to lose such a valuable resource.

 


Brittany Gilbert is a former FACS teacher at Maumelle High School. She and her husband, Levi, have two sons and live in Conway. Brittany can be reached at b.gilbert37@gmail.com.