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How Can the Arts Improve Academic Performance?

As educators, we always want students to succeed and excel, and look for ways to encourage that growth.

In recent years, researchers have studied many aspects of academic success. Educational research now draws connections between success in strictly academic subjects and the participation in arts programs. The body of research has grown immensely over the past years, showing a correlation between the two.

A study published by Abigail Todhunter-Reid of the Department of Childhood Studies at Rutgers University stated, “arts education (minutes per week of art and music instruction) positively predicted academic achievement and growth in reading and mathematics from kindergarten to 5th-grade. Moreover, the positive associations increased in strength as students progressed to later grades.” She is not alone in these findings, and in fact, many studies find similar results.

In music programs alone, students learn a variety of skills that help them in other areas. An article in the Washington Post on this states that music education can help to develop “a wide variety of different skills, including memory and spatial learning…language skills such as verbal memory, literacy and verbal intelligence.” This helps students to perform well in reading and mathematics courses, despite no direct instruction toward the subjects.

Similarly, visual arts students learn to develop their spatial learning, organizational skills, visual memory, and emotional development. These students come to their other subjects more prepared, and able to see connections that other students may miss. The students also are allowed an opportunity to learn history through the study of other artists, which can aid them greatly in reading and composition courses. The study from Rutgers University found these effects grew more profound over time, with students who sustained the arts education improving more overall.

Performing arts like dance and theatre show some of the most profound impacts, as students who learn to perform learn valuable skills that help in classrooms and beyond. Public speaking, verbal skills, memorization, emotional intelligence, literacy, and so on, are all developed by reading and rehearsing a play. Students who have the opportunity to perform often feel a sense of accomplishment, which can motivate them to achieve elsewhere as well. Additionally, this provides a chance for physical engagement which, especially at an elementary level, can be hugely beneficial to students’ focus in their classes.

In total, allowing students the opportunity to develop as artists is better for them in many ways. Teachers can always endeavor to bring arts-based learning into a classroom, or simply allow for creative time. Parents can encourage artists to grow and explore, enroll students in extracurricular programs, or participate in arts with their children. Those who learn with the arts learn on many different levels. They will go far, and achieve higher with the arts behind them.

At Daydream Education, we are committed to improving understanding for all students. We create educational posters that cover a wide variety of subjects, including music, drama, dance, math, and English. If you have any questions or would like to know more about us, get in touch today!