Children have a natural affinity for the arts, from drawing and painting to music, dance, and theater. Unfortunately, when schools face budgetary restrictions, the arts are often seen as fancy extras that can be trimmed away. They seem to miss how much development a child’s brain actually gets from their contact with the arts.
The brain is divided into dual hemispheres, the left and the right. The left hemisphere is in charge of analysis and logic and is useful in processing subjects like math, science, and reading, which get a much stronger emphasis in school. The right side of the brain supports creativity, intuition, and emotional perception, all of which are integral to understanding and creating art. Schools don’t seem to make as much effort to focus on developing kids in this area.
However, research shows that when gifted children solve problems, electrical energy is elevated in both hemispheres of the brain. This seems to indicate what common sense would also tell us: For the brain to function most efficiently, both hemispheres need to work together. Clearly, development of the right hemisphere is equally needed as a child’s cognitive skills mature, allowing both hemispheres to strengthen and work together optimally to achieve the brain’s full potential. This can be done through exposure to the arts.
Beyond the physiological aspect, The New York Center for Arts Education also lists the following additional benefits from exposure to the arts:
Children learn to think creatively, “outside the box”
Skills are developed in observation, description, analysis, and interpretation
Kids learn to express feelings/emotions, both verbally and non-verbally
Art training helps children develop problem-solving skills and critical thinking, as well as improvement in the arts themselves
A child will learn that there can be more than one right answer because there are multiple ways to see things, thus helping him or her approach situations in a more creative way
Kids find art fun, making learning seem like playing
Art is frequently collaborative, so children learn to work with other kids and with adults
Children are introduced to various different cultures from around the world through the arts
Even kids with learning, physical, or emotional disabilities or challenges can benefit and even find success in the arts
Since there is no “one way” to do something in the arts, a kid’s artistic interpretation is as valid as any other, which helps children develop confidence
Arts can build a community, allowing schools with different areas of concentration come together in celebration
In addition to training in the production and performance of art, training in art education and art appreciation also creates a measurable benefit. A University of Kansas study in which kids were invited to visit a museum showed that the children displayed stronger critical-thinking skills, more social tolerance and historical empathy, and a stronger desire to visit more museums and cultural institutions.
Exposure to the arts and humanities is an integral way to foster creativity in kids.