Education Dive recently published an article finding more evidence on the benefit of arts exposure for young children. Field trips, artists in residencies at elementary schools, and daily exposure to music and the arts have increased school readiness, reading skills, and higher retention rates for students at risk for dropping out.
Psychology professor Eleanor Brown of West Chester University in Pennsylvania led a group of researchers to study children who attended an arts-based Head Start program. They compared the children in this program to another similar Head Start program that did not have daily arts integration, and used common early-childhood assessment to measure understanding of basic concepts related to school readiness. The study found that children in the arts program had higher school readiness skills.
Here's a brief excerpt from the article:
The research builds on Brown’s earlier work, funded by an NEA Art Works grant, showing how the arts in early childhood can particularly benefit children living in poverty, who face challenges such as high mobility, neighborhood violence and other risk factors.
Again, comparing a sample of children in the Settlement Music School’s Head Start program to those attending another Head Start center, she found that those who had daily arts classes had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. And on days with more arts classes, their cortisol levels were even lower. Researchers have found that prolonged periods of stress can interfere with a young child’s healthy development and lead to later health problems.
Brown added that while “most Head Start preschools don’t have resources” for the kind of arts experiences provided at the music school, she said that there are “scalable models” such as teacher training and artist-in-residence programs.
With continued research like this, it's crucial that organizations like the Springfield Regional Arts Council continue to provide arts education to the community at no cost. Programs like Arts in the Park, Mini Monet, and field trips reach students in underserved communities. These programs are funded through grants and community donations. Please consider donating a few dollars to help continue arts education in the area!