Disclosure :: this post is sponsored by Ascension Episcopal School.
Building Confidence and Creativity – The Importance of Arts in Middle School
As schools aim to pack more academics in a day, sometimes arts electives are the first to go – we know this isn’t benefiting our children. Arts education affects the mind, heart, spirit, body, and soul of the child, especially in middle school, as developmental challenges arise.
There is a correlation between students who participate in the arts and improvements in their core skills, including math and science. In 2019, the Brookings Institute, and several other organizations, conducted an extensive research project studying the impact arts education has on test scores. The results were conclusive: more arts experiences/opportunities/exposure equals better academic outcomes. A recent study showed that students who majored in the Humanities (which includes the arts) ranked highest in acceptance rates when applying to Pre-Med programs.
Arts education reinforces social skills. These skills include conflict resolution, empathy, and making meaningful connections. A significant amount of research highlights art education’s role in developing Social Emotional Learning (SEL) areas, including self-awareness, self-management, responsible decision-making, social awareness, and relationship skills. Middle school students are seemingly more connected than ever but often lack basic relationship skills. As they find their place in the world, activities on stage, in music rooms, and in the studio provide valuable opportunities for students to power down technologically and power up socially.
Studies have shown a link between participating in artistic activities and reducing stress. Despite the widespread use of social networking, stress and anxiety among students are escalating. The pressure to maintain good grades, the “right” looks, and one’s membership in a certain group can be overwhelming. As simple as it might sound, painting, playing, and dancing can be very therapeutic. For many students, taking a fine or performing arts class represents a break from the daily grind…a time to relax, be creative, and have fun! A teacher’s main goal should be to nurture a student’s growth mindset—that is, a student’s creativity, ingenuity, and adaptability—all greatly enhanced through arts education.
From dance to marching band to musical theatre, the performance arts can be as physically demanding as any competitive sport. Few question the merit of staying physically active, which is especially crucial for middle school students who are still growing and changing. From improving sleep to disease prevention to better mental health and stress reduction – students greatly benefit from daily exercise and movement.
Although not all artwork is produced to glorify God, creative ability – a dance, a song, a poem, or a painting – reflects God’s beauty and love for His children. Humans have been given the ability to imagine and create, which sets us apart from every other creature. Through creating, a person’s soul can become exposed, helping them process and express deep emotions, while also allowing others to connect through this vulnerability. Masterpieces throughout history can help students see the beauty in the world and inspire them to create new works of art to inspire others. Ultimately, the greatest case to support arts education is delighting in His image through creating.
Early and continuous exposure to various arts sets students up for future success in not solely career fields but in life. Arts should not only be reserved for the preschool classroom. At Ascension Episcopal School, we make Fine Arts a priority throughout a student’s educational experience because we believe creative, well-rounded kids become engaged, problem-solving adults. It is because of this that we are as dedicated to our Fine Arts programs as we are to our academic subjects. So, whether your child pursues music, visual arts, photography, videography, or theatre, you can be sure they’ll receive the very best of what we have to offer at every grade level.
Ascension Episcopal School is a day school with approximately 660 students in PK3 through twelfth grade located on three campuses around Lafayette. Ascension is committed to educational excellence in a Christian environment. To learn more about Ascension, please visit our website www.ascensionbluegators.org or call (337) 233-9748 ext. 501 to schedule a tour.
About the Author
Joshua P. McClymont — Joshua is an actor, director, and Ascension Episcopal School administrator who has been working alongside students and adults within the Theatre Arts and arts education for the past twenty years. He holds a B.F.A. in Theatre Performance (Miami University) and a M.Ed in Educational Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania. A native of New Jersey, Joshua has both acted and directed in numerous local productions such as Les Misérables, Christmas Story-The Musical, The Game’s Afoot, It’s a Wonderful Life-A Radio Production, Little Shop of Horrors, Oklahoma!, Lost in Yonkers, Singing in the Rain, The Importance of Being Earnest.