According to research conducted by the National Assembly of State Arts Associations and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, art, music and physical education classes provide lasting positive effects on children’s mental, physical and academic health. Studying music and art can facilitate student learning in subjects like math, reading and social studies. Meanwhile, physical education classes can improve concentration, memory and classroom behavior. The American Journal of Public Health found that elementary school girls who participated in more P.E. boasted better math and reading test scores than those who had less time in P.E. class.
Benefits of Music
Music classes can lead to an improvement in elementary school children’s spatial-temporal reasoning skills. Music classes lead to academic gains, especially in math, as well as social gains that come from working collaboratively with other children in band, according to a study by the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. Learning to read music is similar to learning a foreign language and may help children’s sequencing abilities. Music offers an expressive and relaxing outlet, and as children get better at playing an instrument, they gain satisfaction and self esteem.
A 2005 report on the visual arts by the Rand Corporation claims studying art "can connect people more deeply to the world and open them to new ways of seeing, creating the foundation to forge social bonds and community cohesion.” The President’s Committee study discovered that art develops “habits of mind including problem solving, critical and creative thinking skills,” as well as an increased in focus and intellectual risk taking. Additionally, studies have found that children who are not native English speakers achieve significant language and reading gains after participating in a formal visual arts program.
Physical education builds strong muscles, a healthy heart and active brain. A good elementary school P.E. class featuring cardiovascular and strength training activities combats childhood obesity and diabetes, along with helping children maintain focus during math, language arts and social studies classes. The President’s Council on Fitness states that physical education in school is essential to a child’s physical health and well-being. The benefits of P.E. extend past grade school. The American Academy of Pediatrics notes that physical education in elementary school years can promote a more active lifestyle throughout a person’s life.
Societal and Personal Benefits
Music, art and physical education can be fun for students. Children learn to work together and develop social competencies they will use throughout their lives. The arts and physical education foster teamwork, which is critical not only in higher education but also in the workplace. Art teaches that each person thinks and sees things differently, thereby promoting tolerance for people’s differences. The arts offers an outlet for a child’s expression, keeping children excited about school and fostering a sense of self-worth and a drive to excel and succeed. According to the President’s Council report, children who were involved in music, art or sports in school have been found to have fewer disciplinary problems, increased test scores and have had higher graduation rates.
- Edutopia: Why Arts Education is Crucial, and Who’s Doing it Best
- The National Assembly of State Arts Associations: How the Arts Benefit Student Achievement
- The President’s Committee on Arts and Humanities: Reinvesting in Arts Education
- National Association for Sports and Physical Education: Physical Education is Critical to Educating the Whole Child
- President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports: School Physical Education as a Viable Change Agent to Increase Youth Physical Activity
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