Arts education refers to studies in music, dance, theatre, and the visual arts. Knowledge and expertise in these disciplines is critical to our society. The arts are an invaluable piece to what makes us whole as people, as a society, and as professionals in the workforce. But it takes more than the occasional craft to solidify the value of arts education in students. Just as we might push our kids toward opportunities to grow their skills and knowledge in math and science topics, we should do the same for the arts.
Across all industries, there is a tech skills gap in the workforce right now. So much so, that 78 percent of employers say they’re having trouble finding qualified candidates for their open positions. The gap has forced an over-correction in emphasizing STEM education and, in some cases, taking away from arts education in order to close the gap.
The Importance of Arts
Children specifically benefit from arts education with increased creativity, motivation, aesthetic awareness, cultural exposure, and improved self-esteem and emotional expression. But improved academic performance in all subjects is another result of studying arts such as learning an instrument.
Arts education can even improve attendance and decrease dropout rates because it engages students who might feel disinterested in other subjects. This leads to better graduation rates and more students going on to higher education and increasing their skill sets for the future workforce. But how do we get arts education for kids if schools are spending less time teaching it? Here’s a possible solution:
One way we can integrate more arts into our kids’ lives is to take initiative at home with online courses and home-study programs. Learning to play a musical instrument at home is just as effective as a school program.
Even something as simple as encouraging young children to play with the many art and music supplies you have around the house can be effective. Toddlerhood is a perfect opportunity to get kids started learning, not only STEM-based skills, but those skills that can be better learned through arts activities and lessons. Early learning can have a profound effect on a child’s development as they grow. Here are a few tips on how to encourage artistic learning at home:
- Provide creative materials like markers, crayons, paints, paper, paper towel tubes, empty water bottles, paper plates, chalk, glue, etc.
- Visit art museums locally and when you travel.
- Make wordless picture books a part of your family’s book collection.
If you choose to explore arts education though home-based learning, it’s a good idea to also incorporate some quizzes based on those studies in order to determine where your child’s strengths lie and where they could use some extra attention. Creating quizzes at home is easy, here are a few tips:
- Know your objective. Know what level of difficulty is appropriate for your child’s age and level. Keep in mind this isn’t a standardized test, so it’s okay to have fun with it.
- Research the topic. Use your child’s art projects and work books to come up with questions form information they’ve covered.
- Use technology. Just because we’re studying arts doesn’t mean technology can’t be a helpful tool. Some apps and other programs are great for not only studying arts, but for test-taking platforms as well.
The lack of arts education doesn’t just affect youngsters. We’ve all got some catching up to do. We can do so by encouraging young students to pursue arts degrees if that’s what they want, rather than pushing students into the math and engineering just because you think it might be a more lucrative career path.
Parent’s know that taking on student loans to pursue your dream is no matter to be taken lightly. It’s expensive, and time consuming — worst of all, it doesn’t guarantee a career in that field. But since most people work in fields different than their university discipline, who not study what really interests you?
Many people have the pre-conceived notion that liberal arts degrees are useless, but liberal studies programs and studying the humanities brings a whole other skill set to students and workers that is highly valuable in everyday life and also in professional settings. These skills provide the tools to make new connections, innovative ideas, and solutions to complex problems. Any degree, even an arts degree, can lay the foundation to become more successful thinkers, decision-makers, and leaders. In particular, liberal arts programs are ideal for students with a wide-range of intellectual interests and can therefore apply their studies to many different career paths.
Encouraging arts education, by no means, aims to limit STEM programs. Students should pursue topics they enjoy and thrive in, but even a mathematician or engineer can benefit from a broad spectrum of both hard and soft skills — some of which can only be gained through the arts.