While there have been countless efforts in research showing that teaching The Arts (Music and Art) as a Second Language benefits many aspects of early childhood development, there is still a vacuum where understanding the value of arts in education is concerned. Namely, the majority of these studies assume that the reader is interested in seeing the arts as a supplement to “more important” disciplines, or other aspects of learning and development.
Unfortunately, this assumption about the general readership for such studies is probably fairly accurate–many look at music and art as simply tools to get children to understand math, language decoding, and other skills and knowledge to prepare a person for mandated tests, and the general workforce. But the history of the arts proves that true artistic learning and experiences can themselves be the means to students achieving a stronger sense of their voices and feelings, thereby creating a richer community and future.
Below are three reasons that arts being nurtured from an early age can benefit both the individual student, and the general population:
1. The Arts are an Unrivaled Expression of Human Emotion: When a child learns to draw a face, one of the first things being taught is how to depict what the represented face is feeling. Anyone in the teaching field who has learned to incorporate drawing, painting, or other visual expressions knows that stories of a child’s life can come through instantly through pictures, while those same stories might take weeks of interaction to understand verbally. Music is known to many as the language of emotion. When a child is experiencing overwhelming feelings, without understanding the source of them, musical exploration can act as a therapeutic release, and validation of those feelings, even when the source of the emotional response remains obscure.
2. The Arts are a Powerful Tool in Bringing Community Together: Blues is still one of the strongest influences in the history of American music. Civil rights were supported heavily by national and regional performers telling the stories of people in their struggles for equality and humanity. It stands to reason that the earlier we begin exposing people to the skills of civil expression, the more future movements for positive change might benefit.
3. The Arts are a Beautiful Way of Life: Let us not forget the sheer joy of creating art! To learn folk tunes, or put a book together with one’s teacher and classmates as part of a given lesson is not only a great way to understand the lesson, but it’s also very fun. Students especially interested in music or art, given exposure at a young age will have unequaled opportunities to begin finding and developing an artistic voice. Over time this emphasis can nurture a child’s artistic interest in ways that a traditional, marginalized arts program (or no arts program at all) could never offer.
Are we glad when accelerated math skills occur as a result of our holistic program? Of course. As educators we are dedicated to opening as many opportunities for our students as possible. It is also important to remember that the arts are a language and skill set of great value to the world and to ourselves, and therefore worth exploring as early as possible.
If you have questions about the Montessori method of arts inclusion, or would like to learn more about our school, please feel free to contact us.
- R. Rodriguez