Schools are diverse communities in which people from all walks of life gather to teach, learn and pursue an assortment of interests and passions. Students are perhaps the best reflection of that diversity, as even small schools are home to young people who excel in sports, music, theater, and, of course, academics.
Many young people harbor a strong interest in the arts, which can provide some surprising benefits. For example, the National Endowment for the Arts reports that students with high arts participation and low socioeconomic status have a 4 percent dropout rate. That’s five times lower than their low socioeconomic status peers. In addition, a report from the Rice Kinder Institute for Urban Research found that arts education experiences reduce the proportion of students in school receiving disciplinary infractions by 3.6 percent.
Despite the myriad benefits of participation in arts education, which can include improved performance in the classroom, Americans for the Arts notes that not all students have access to art-based educational experiences. Parents of students who are interested in the arts can try various approaches to nurture those interests.
• Support school-based arts education programs. Funding for arts programs is perpetually in jeopardy. Each state and school district is different, but a 2013 report from the National Association of State Boards of Education found that federal funding for arts and humanities programs totaled roughly $250 million a year, while the National Science Foundation received around $5 billion annually. Arts and sciences are both important, and parents can support legislation that directs more federal funding for the arts while urging local legislators to direct more money to arts education.
• Make art a part of life at home. Americans for the Arts recommends that parents make the arts part of life at home. Participating alongside children as they sing, dance, draw, play music or pursue other arts-based interests is a great way to incorporate the arts into home life while showing kids how fun the arts can be.
• Research local performing arts schools. Children who exhibit an especially strong interest in the arts may benefit from enrolling in a school that specializes in performing arts. Such schools may be open to kids as young as five and extend all the way through high school. Some performing arts schools require prospective students to audition or apply. Arts high schools still offer instruction in core academic subjects, but parents should explore each school’s curriculum before deciding if a given school is right for their children.
Arts education can have a profound impact on the life of a young person. There are many ways for parents to nurture and encourage their children’s interest in the arts.