Music and Art and Child Development

In the current educational climate, visual and performing arts may seem like supplements to a well-rounded education. However, a growing body of research indicates that music and art are vital components in child development. A focus on the arts enables youngsters to develop crucial creativity, fine motor skills, and visual-spatial skills. As children hone these important skills, they also tend to improve their academic performance.

The Importance of Creativity and Visual Arts

Sparking creativity in a child provides a vehicle for self-expression. Once kids begin to tap into their creativity, they will naturally develop a better ability to express themselves, which can spill over into other academic subjects, even science and math. Creativity can also boost self-confidence and increase problem-solving skills. The process of creating an art project forces a child to use critical-thinking skills during both the planning and execution stages. Open-ended activities place the focus on the creative process and not the end result, which fosters flexibility.

How Music Enhances Brain Development

Almost everyone enjoys listening to music, and children are certainly included in this group. Taking music appreciation one step further and introducing musical training to children can have far-reaching benefits, especially for children under age 7. Researchers have found that musical training actually promotes the development of synapses in the brain and increases brain volume. Learning to play a musical instrument can lead to improvements in how the brain interprets sensory information. Playing music forces the brain to perform the simultaneous processes of reading the music, producing musical tones, and analyzing the tones produced. One study took brain scans of people between the ages of 19 and 21 who received at least one year of musical training during their childhoods before age 7. These people had larger areas of the brain associated with hearing and self-awareness, suggesting that musical training affects how the brain develops.

Language Development

Scientists have determined that a musical education has a direct correlation with language development. The left side of the brain is involved with language acquisition and processing, and musical training helps develop connections in the left side of the brain. Even the process of learning the lyrics to songs has an impact on language, since children actively learn phonics and word meanings as they sing. Similarly, visual arts can have a positive impact on language skills as well. Children can use new words to describe art processes and projects, thereby expanding their vocabularies.

Additional Benefits of Performing and Visual Arts

When youngsters have the opportunity to learn a musical instrument, listen to a variety of music, and dabble in visual art, they can experience both short- and long-term benefits. Kids involved with art programs are more likely to have superior academic performance, and they are more likely to participate in extracurricular activities such as art and science fairs. Kids are also more likely to receive community service awards and school attendance awards, and they also tend to earn higher scores on the SAT. As confidence grows through mastery of artistic skills, children easily transfer this confidence to other areas outside of the arts, using it to excel academically, emotionally, and physically.

Benefits Continue Into Adulthood

While the benefits of art are significant for children, the advantages don't stop with age. Teenagers with a musical and artistic focus tend to remain more motivated and engaged with their academic work. Positive attitudes about their lives and well-being are more likely. Artistic teens may even adjust their educational aspirations, creating more ambitious goals for themselves. Once these energetic mindsets become habits, they will likely continue on into adulthood.