Growing up in today’s world presents challenges that didn’t exist 20 years ago, so how are parents going to equip their children with the tools to overcome roadblocks and launch them on a path to success? An education that includes the arts is essential to a child’s success in developing a fulfilling life. Skills developed through participation in the arts are increasingly important in the workplace and therefore, key to a successful career.

“Art in schools shouldn’t be sidelined… it should be right there right up in the front because I think art teaches you to deal with the world around you. It is the oxygen that makes all the other subjects breathe”- Alan Parker, filmmaker

The next time you are considering an extra-curricular activity for your child, make the choice that will garner benefits long after the program is over. Choose an activity that will help your kids stand out, be heard and dream big. Choose the arts and give your kids the artistic edge. For that is what young people need to succeed in today’s society.

What does learning through the arts mean?

When specific skills and techniques are taught in dance, drama, music, and visual arts, students are learning “in” the arts. When these skills and techniques are used to teach concepts in health education, language arts, math, science, and social studies, students are learning “through” the arts.

How does art help in child development?

Art is important for children especially during their early development. Research shows that art activities develop brain capacity in early childhood. Art engages children’s senses in open-ended play and supports the development of cognitive, social-emotional and multisensory skills.

What are correct examples of learning through art?

Learners explore creatively while building connections between different concepts through various art forms. Art experiences, both in visual (drawing and painting, clay modelling, pottery, paper crafts, mask and puppet making, heritage crafts etc.) and performing arts (music, dance, theatre, puppetry etc.)

How does art help learning?

Art programs have the potential to help improve a student’s memory and concentration skills, develop decision-making and critical thinking skills, enhance communication and listening skills, but also encourage focus and discipline. … An arts education can also help a student to improve self-esteem and social skills.

“All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once they grow up.”- Pablo Picasso

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.”   ~Albert Einstein

Why are activities with music, movement, drama, and art so successful with young children? Through activities with the arts, children learn to express the “mysterious” – their rapidly growing understandings, their thoughts, and their feelings. The process of making art allows the artist to give image, word, sound, or movement to something that is often intangible – that is what young children do every day. They are born artists and scientists. Young children explore the arts with both a creative and a scientific “eye.” The artist in them searches for creative expression, and the scientist figures out the way to do it! Our role is to provide them with the materials and inspiration, then to stand back and let them go!


The Arts Stimulate Brain Growth

The exciting “brain” news is that participating in art, music, movement, and storytelling activities not only develops language, mathematics, science, and social skills, but these activities also strengthen the synapses between brain cells!  Research shows that these synapses grow stronger through active participation in the arts. These essential activities at an early age can create new neural pathways and fortify those that are already present! For example, neuroscientists feel that the combined arts used in rhythmic movement activities (words and music) can help the young brain develop to its fullest capacity. At infancy a child has all the synapses needed to speak any language, to learn and appreciate music and movement, and to create visual art…but these synapses must be used in order to be developed.


Learning Activities With Visual Art…


  • Encourage children to use their hands to manipulate clay, finger paint, weave, paint, and draw. This helps build fine motor skills – the same skills that children need to learn how to write letters and words.
  • Ask children to express their feelings using color, texture, and structure. Children often use colors in their drawings and paintings to express a mood. And the textures of clay provide a perfect place to work out frustrations!
  • Use art materials to observe, predict, experiment, and problem-solve. Open-ended art activities in which children have to make choices as to how to create a sculpture or picture help foster the development of these scientific thinking skills.
  • Invite children to talk about their art with words and stories in order to promote language development.
  • Use discussions with other children and shared experiences to shape social and emotional interaction skills. By inviting children to “title” their art, you invite them to use art as a language.
  • Introduce new art materials, such as painting with feathers. This invites children to build a strong sense of success and mastery.


Learning Activities With Music and Movement…


  • With yoga, jumping, running, and dancing games to help children develop large muscle skills, strength, balance, rhythm, and coordination.
  • Use rhythmic clapping games, tip toe dances, and finger plays to develop small muscles of the hands and feet.
  • Through singing repetitive songs and circle dancing games, introduce the math skills of patterning, sequencing, and counting.
  • Engage children in rhyming songs and in singing word games to build the essential language learning skills of communication, listening, and speaking.
  • Use music and movement to express emotions and develop autonomy and social interaction. This helps foster social and emotional development.


Learning Activities With Creative Drama and Storytelling…


  • Invite children to act out and create stories to develop vocabulary, sequencing, listening, and memory skills.
  • Explore familiar fairy tales and nursery rhymes to encourage children to learn to distinguish between fantasy and reality.
  • Encourage children to act out their own feelings and the feelings of others in stories and dramatic play center activities. This helps provide a greater understanding of their own feelings and those of others.
  • Explore play themes with a variety of culturally diverse materials to promote multicultural awareness.
  • Invite children to express a “story” with their bodies. This provides opportunities for children to develop body awareness.



The Arts Stimulate Heads and Hearts

As humans we are a combination of emotional mind and rational mind.  These two “minds” work in tight harmony to create our experience of life.  Activities in the arts invite children to play with the balance of “head and heart.” There are no wrong answers in creative activities.  And risk taking is definitely encouraged!  Through improvisation and experimentation with the arts in a non-judgmental environment, children learn more about themselves and their world.

Let’s take a look at 10 ways the arts help kids learn and develop valuable characteristics they will need as adults.

“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is

out of focus.”- Mark Twain

  1. Creativity

We know the arts are all about creativity because they allow kids to express themselves. Math and science are important, of course, but the visual arts push kids’ creativity and divergent thinking skills to the next level. If children practice thinking creatively, it will come naturally to them now and in their future careers.

  1. Improved Academic Performance

The arts don’t just develop a child’s creativity. The skills they learn often spill over into their academic achievement. A report by the Americans for the Arts states, “A student involved in the arts is four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement.” I think most of us know this, too.

  1. Fine-Tuning Fine Motor Skills

For younger kiddos, simple things like holding a paintbrush, making marks with pens, pencils or crayons, and cutting with scissors are important for the development of fine motor skills. Developmental milestones around age three should include drawing a circle and beginning to use safety scissors. Around age four, children may be able to draw a square and begin cutting straight lines with scissors. This continues throughout the years where students begin to merge their technical skills with their creative skills.

  1. Confidence

While mastering a subject certainly builds a student’s confidence, there is something special about participating in the arts. Using materials that turn into visual stories is magical, and it helps students feel more confident. As they improve and see their own progress, their self-confidence continues to grow.

  1. Visual Learning

Drawing, painting, and sculpting in art class help to develop visual-spatial skills. As art educators, we know children need to know more about the world than just what they can learn through text and numbers. Art education teaches students how to interpret, criticize, and use visual information, and how to make choices based on that information.

  1. Decision Making

We know the arts strengthen problem-solving and critical thinking skills. Learning how to make choices and decisions will certainly carry over into our students’ education and other parts of life.

  1. Perseverance

As we are all aware, the arts can be challenging. I have always said, it’s called artwork for a reason! Successful artists don’t quit. They learn that hard work and perseverance pay off. This mindset matters as they grow. As artists choose their career paths, they will be asked to continually develop new skills and work through difficult projects.

  1. Concentration Skills

As artists persevere through a painting or a drawing, focus and concentration are imperative. We know concentration skills are also vital for studying and learning in class as well as completing professional tasks later in life.

  1. Collaboration

Many of the visual art projects require them to work together. They must share responsibility and compromise to achieve their common goal. I think the arts teach kids their contribution to the group is integral to its success.

  1. Accountability

Just like collaboration, kids in the arts learn they are accountable for their contributions to the group and to their individual artmaking. Mistakes are a part of life, and learning to accept them, fix them, and move on will serve students well as they grow older.

All art requires courage.” – Anne Tucker

“The artist is not a different kind of person, but every person is a different kind of artist” – Eric Gill




Now more than ever, employers are looking for creative thinkers who can move their business forward, not just academic achievers who know how to maintain the status quo. Being able to think on your feet, approach tasks from different perspectives and think ‘outside of the box’ will distinguish your child from others. In an arts program, your child will be asked to recite a monologue in 6 different ways, create a painting that represents a memory, or compose a new rhythm to enhance a piece of music. If children have practice thinking creatively, it will come naturally to them now and in their future career.



-They initiate new ideas

-They express ideas in unique ways and from diverse perspectives

-They seek to make their piece or performance different from others

-They use something in a new way or for a different purpose



For many people, stage fright is one of their greatest fears. Some people get physically ill at the thought of speaking in front of their colleagues or making a presentation to clients. The skills developed through theatre, not only train you how to convincingly deliver a message, but also build the confidence you need to take command of the stage. Experience in theatre gives children practice stepping out of their comfort zone and allows them to make mistakes and learn from them in rehearsal. This process gives children the confidence to perform in front of large audiences. Imagine what children could achieve with all the confidence they need to succeed.




-They volunteer opinions and ideas

-They walk with their head high and a smile on their face

-They are willing to try new things

-They are comfortable meeting new people 



Artistic creations are born through the solving of problems. How do I turn this clay into a sculpture? How do I portray a particular emotion through dance? How will my character react in this situation? Without even realizing it kids that participate in the arts are consistently being challenged to solve problems. All this practice problem solving develops children’s skills in reasoning and understanding. The arts teach children to approach problems as exciting opportunities to challenge their skills and creativity. Art is a powerful avenue to work through problems that may occur in life. It allows children to imagine possible solutions and test them out on their peers. This is a valuable exercise that will help develop important problem-solving skills necessary for success in any career.



-They approach a problem as an exciting challenge

-They analyze a problem by asking relevant questions

-They are able to make complex choices by weighing possible solutions in light of the


-They are open to trying multiple ideas until a solution is found



Life presents us with many challenges that require us to be dedicated, persistent, and patient, whether it be writing a 10-page history paper or working on a multi-layered presentation for the CEO of your company. Experience in the arts helps kids understand and appreciate where persistence can get you. When a child picks up a violin for the first time, she/he knows that playing Bach right away is not an option; however, when that child practices, learns the skills and techniques and doesn’t give up, that Bach concerto is that much closer. In an increasingly competitive world, where people are being asked to continually develop new skills, perseverance is essential to achieving success.



-They see mistakes as opportunities to learn

-They do not give up on something they want to learn

-They believe that goals are achievable even though they may present challenges

-They ask for coaching from others more skilled than they are.  


  1. FOCUS

The ability to focus is a key skill developed through ensemble work. While participating in music, children must watch and listen to each other in order to know when and how to make a contribution to a piece of music. The same applies to experiences in dance and theatre. Keeping a balance between listening and contributing involves a great deal of concentration and focus. It requires each participant to not only think about their role, but how their role contributes to the big picture of what is being created. Recent research has shown that participation in the arts improves children’s abilities to concentrate and focus in other aspects of their lives.



-They make eye contact and angle their body towards someone they are listening to

-They respond with an understanding of the question

-They are able to focus on a task despite distraction

-They are observant of the world around them



The performing arts develops a child’s awareness of how they are communicating with the world through their body language. Many people go through life unconscious of the messages they are sending with their posture and gestures. Through experiences in theatre and dance education, children learn to breakdown the mechanics of body language. They experience different ways of moving and how those movements communicate different emotions. They are then coached in performance skills to ensure they are portraying their character effectively to the audience. This is powerful, not only, on the stage, but in a job interview!



-They walk tall without hunching over

-They stand with their arms uncrossed

-They make eye contact during interactions with people they meet

-They use their facial expressions to express positivity



Receiving constructive feedback about a performance or visual art piece is a regular part of any arts instruction. Visual arts, for example, has a culture of group critique, where children are encouraged to share and talk about each others’ work. Children learn that feedback is part of learning, and it is not something to be offended by or to be taken personally. It is something helpful. The goal is the improvement of skills and evaluation is incorporated at every step of the process. Each arts discipline has built in parameters to ensure that critique is a valuable experience and greatly contributes to the success of the final piece. This is an invaluable skill to develop, because when children become adults, they will be evaluated in their workplace and must take that feedback as constructive and not as a personal attack.



-They ask for feedback about something they are doing

-They listen to the comments without interrupting

-They are honest with themselves and accept areas that

need improvement

-They are not defensive and are grateful that someone has taken the time to help them develop


Receiving constructive feedback about a performance or visual art piece is a regular part of any arts instruction. Visual arts, for example, has a culture of group critique, where children are encouraged to share and talk about each others’ work. Children learn that feedback is part of learning, and it is not something to be offended by or to be taken personally. It is something helpful. The goal is the improvement of skills and evaluation is incorporated at every step of the process. Each arts discipline has built in parameters to ensure that critique is a valuable experience and greatly contributes to the success of the final piece. This is an invaluable skill to develop, because when children become adults, they will be evaluated in their workplace and must take that feedback as constructive and not as a personal attack.



Most arts disciplines are collaborative in nature. Through the arts, children practice working together, sharing responsibility, and compromising with others to accomplish a common goal. When a child has a part to play in a music ensemble, or a theatre or dance production, they begin to understand that their contribution is necessary for the success of the group. There are no small parts, only small actors! Through these experiences children gain confidence and start to learn that their contributions have value even if they don’t have the biggest role. In a work environment this skill is essential, as companies always want employees who are team players.



-They are willing to make compromises to accomplish a common goal

-They value and respect the opinions of others in the group

-They take initiative to contribute

-They feel their contributions have value



When kids get to practice following through with artistic endeavors that result in a finished product or performance, they learn to associate dedication with a feeling of accomplishment. They practice developing healthy work habits of being on time for rehearsals and performances, respecting the contributions of others, and putting effort into the success of the final piece. In the performing arts, the reward for dedication is the warm feeling of an audience’s applause that comes rushing over you, making all your efforts worthwhile. The incredible achievements kids experience through the arts help them realize that extraordinary things can occur when you are dedicated and persevere through challenges. With this outlook on life, there are no goals that a child cannot accomplish.



-They practice in their free time

-They are focused while at rehearsals

-They take feedback as a chance to improve

-They trust coaches to push them beyond what they think they can achieve



When children practice creating something collaboratively, they get used to the idea that their actions affect other people. They learn that when they are not prepared or on-time, that other people suffer. For example, when one person does not show-up for a dance rehearsal, it affects the progress of the ensemble and the morale of everyone there. There is a gap, someone without a partner and someone who will be behind when they return. Through the arts, children also learn that it is important to admit that you made a mistake and take responsibility for it. Because mistakes are a regular part of the process of learning in the arts, children begin to see that mistakes happen. We acknowledge them, learn from them and move on. This is a crucial skill to learn early in life because it contributes to the development of integrity of character, which every employer is seeking in a staff member.



-They are committed to being on time and prepared

-They do not want to miss a rehearsal because they are aware that this will make things difficult for others in the group

-They are willing to admit they made a mistake

-They correct mistakes quickly and use them as a opportunity to improve.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” – Albert Einstein


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