The importance of the creative arts, part 2

 
        In a ten-year national study by Shirley Brice Heath of Stanford University, it was discovered that young people who are involved in highly effective nonschool arts-based community programs in under-resourced communities, in comparison with a national sample of students were: 

        * four times more likely to win an academic award, such as being on the honor roll.
 
        * eight times more likely to receive a community service award.
 
        * three times more likely to win a school attendance award.
 
        * four times more likely to participate in a math or science fair.
 
        * likely to score higher on their SAT college admission test scores if they have been involved for more than four years of after-school arts study.
 
        It is typical that those who fund school programs have seen the visual and performing arts as frills -- programs that can be added only when there is enough money for them, as well as the first to be cut if there is a budget crisis.   

        In last week's column, I began a list of benefits that art brings to children, as highlighted in a conversation with Aiko Cuneo, an artist who workswith children in schools. Following is the completion of the list:

        * Creating art is a fine way for children to make choices and solve problems. Every step involves making a decision: what color to use, how to make a line, what size to make something. With every choice the object becomes more and more their own.
 
        * Everyone has an imagination. Art takes it a step further. Through art, children create something that, until that point, was only imagined. Thus, they create visual manifestations of abstract ideas. 
 
        * Children who may be having difficulties in other parts of the school curriculum may find an expressive outlet through art. Itís a way to uncover talent that may not be seen otherwise. 
 
        * Art is a means of communicating ideas, feelings, and solutions in a way other than verbally or written.
 
        Families can create a harmonious balance in their childrenís lives when they make provisions for the arts. Following are ideas to incorporate them into your home life.

         This column has been incorporated into Teach Your Children Well: A Teacherís  Advice for Parents.

 
All columns are copyright © Jay Davidson. Permission is hereby granted for individuals to download and copy them for individual use. There is a modest charge for printing these columns in any publication. To receive that permission, contact Jay Davidson