In August 2011, New Hampshire schools needed to cut 5 percent of their already tight budget. As a result, schools said goodbye to art, music, and new textbooks. This situation isn’t unique to New Hampshire. In fact, schools across the United States are cutting arts, music, drama, and foreign language despite the fact that study after study has shown exposure to the arts benefits students.
According to the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities,
“Students with high involvement in the arts, including minority and low-income students, performed better in school and stayed in school longer than students with low involvement, the relative advantage increasing over the school years.”
In addition, lower-income students who participate in band and orchestra outscored other students on math assessment testing, and those involved in drama demonstrated a higher reading proficiency. A U.S. Department of Justice study also found that students involved in arts had lower rates of drug use and increased self-esteem. In addition, a study by Americans for the Arts found that an arts education helped special education students with cognitive and physical development along with critical-thinking skills, goal-setting, and social skills.
If your child’s school has cut the arts, you have options.
Public schools aren’t the only location where your child can be introduced to the arts. Private lessons are available for the piano, the violin, foreign language, singing, and more. The major benefit is that your child will have one-on-one time with the instructor, allowing for a tailored experience. The main downside is private lessons can often be expensive.
Friends and Family
If you can’t afford private lessons, perhaps you have a family member or a friend who is skilled in the piano or a foreign language. Talk to her about teaching your child in exchange for a small fee or even a skill you have to offer. While she is teaching your child, you could do her grocery shopping, or if you have good handyman skills, you can offer to fix items around her home.
Take to the Web
The internet has a lot to offer. Programs such as Creativity Express, recently featured on The Balancing Act, offer an art curriculum that can be used by parents or teachers. The award-winning program provides 16 animated lesson plans that help children understand, interpret, and create.
You can help your school afford to offer arts education by become a champion for the cause and fundraising. It will take a lot of work and you’ll definitely need the support of the school administration, teachers, and other parents, but there are resources available to help. Your hard work and effort will pay off and your children will be the true winners.
How ever you make it happen, any form of arts education you can provide for your children will enrich their lives today and well into adulthood.