A quick search on Google will give you 960,000,000 results on the benefits of the arts in education. There is a huge body of knowledge that has proven repeatedly that arts education impacts the academic, social, and emotional lives of students. And even though national surveys show an overwhelming majority of the public agrees that the arts are a necessary part of a well-rounded education, students receiving arts education has shrunk drastically over the last few decades.
As an artist myself, the thought of my children not having exposure to the arts in their education was a painful one. Which is why I decided, before my first born could walk, that I would homeschool and include the arts in every aspect of our schooling. Over the last 15+ years, my children and I have learned a lot together. And the one thing that consistently looms large in our home is that art permeates everything. Inspired Minds Art Center has asked if I would share with you what I have learned incorporating the arts into all aspects of our homeschooling.
Arts projects that accompany curriculum help children become more compassionate and collaborative. I have four children with 5 years between them. My children also span the spectrum from gifted to cognitively disabled. It’s always been a joy to assign a project and then step back and watch as my children discuss problems and ideas, experiment to come up with solutions, and assist each other in completing their projects. Their compassion for those who learn differently from them and their collaborative spirit extends well beyond the classroom.
Having a hands-on art component attached to any lesson increases knowledge retention. I have witnessed meaning and memory making in my kids when they can associate the information I want to impart with the things they create. My children remember an unbelievable amount of information from lessons we did years ago because they have a deep connection with the subject matter through the objects they have created – mosaics made during our study of Ancient Greece; a wampum belt made while studying Native Americans; designing a shadow puppet play to retell the story of the Chinese New Year; writing poetry while studying Shakespeare; compass making while studying the great world explorers; a hand-made nature journal made over weeks of studying botany; making paper polyhedrons to better understand math concepts; and the list goes on and on. I have lots of examples and my children remember most of them.
Here's what my kids have to say about art and education:
“You learn a lot more about stuff, like history, when you study art.”
“It gives you more respect for people in history. They had to make everything themselves! I made a small fresco and it was hard. Can you imagine what Michelangelo had to go through to make the Sistine Chapel?”
“Writing and spelling are art. You have to learn all the parts and then put them together. Just like in drawing.”
Are you looking for ways to incorporate art into your home? Valentine's Day and Chinese New Year is upon us! Try making these Paper Fortune Cookies with sweet Valentine's messages: