The Importance of Art Education

Updated: Aug 14, 2019

The No Child Left Behind mandate and the implementation of Common Core State Standards have forced educators to make language arts and math a priority over other subjects and in many cases totally excluding art from the curriculum. In addition, many public schools have conformed to the pressure of making sure that their students are prepared to achieve on standardized test leaving little room for teachers to include any form of arts in their curriculum.

Arts education refers to curriculum and instruction in the areas of music, dance, theater, and visual arts. Unfortunately, art programs and other “non-tested” subjects are typically the first thing to get cut with curriculum and/or budget changes. Between 2008 and 2012, more than 30% of the art teachers were released and at least 50% of all elementary aged students in Los Angeles County had art education completely removed from their curriculum (EdSource Staff, 2014). During this same time period the New York City Department of Education reported that only 45% of elementary schools and 33% of middle schools provided art education.

While some are okay with eliminating art from school because they think of it as an extracurricular, a luxury or something that is just not that important; research shows that adding art to a curriculum is fundamental to providing well-rounded education. In addition, to providing opportunities for learners to connect with others, express their thoughts and feelings art also aids in language development, motor skills, visual learning and decision making.

There are different approaches to art education; art exposure, art integration and sequential art instruction. Art exposure is the least intense and basically involves students being exposed to art on occasion. For example, going on field trips to a play, the museum, the orchestra etc.

Art Integration & Sequential Arts Education

Art integration is a unique concept where students demonstrate subject content knowledge and understanding through artistic expression. Some examples could include, after learning about slavery, students create abolitionist posters or acting out a scene from a play that they finish. Integrating art in this manner is an effective way to engage students in applied learning. In these instances, students can express themselves artistically while the teacher is assessing the students’ understanding of the subject content.

Sequential arts education encompasses art being taught as separate stand-alone subjects with a curriculum that’s has learning outcomes and goals like an English or Math class would.

Art integration and sequential art both offer amazing benefits for students especially when matched with exposure. Some of the developmental benefits to having art education include:

  • Motor Skills: There is motions involved in art-making; holding a paintbrush, scribbling with a crayon, pen or pencil play a part in the development of fine motor skills. Using scissors in preschool is essential to the development of the dexterity children need to write correctly.

  • Language Development: Talking about art, making art and being exposed to art early provides children the opportunity to learn new words.

  • Visual-spatial skills: Drawing, painting, threading beads on a string, sculpting with clay all aid in developing visual-spatial skills.

  • Decision Making: Creating arts involves making decisions which strengthens and supports problem-solving and critical-thinking skills. The process of making decisions when creating art carries over into other aspects of life.

  • Inventiveness: Encouraging kids to take risk and express themselves creatively develops a sense of innovation.

  • Cultural Awareness: Teaching children to identify how the artist portrays the subjects in their work helps them to understand that artist interpretation of reality.

In a report developed by the research department at The Oregon Community Foundation, they found that:

  1. Sequential arts education and arts integration are associated with greater motivation, engagement, and self-esteem.

  2. Arts participation is correlated with the development of social competencies.

  3. Arts education is related to habits of mind that contribute to academic success.

  4. More sequential arts education is associated with higher academic achievement.

  5. Students who participate in arts integration have higher reading and math scores.

  6. Arts education can help close the achievement gap.

  7. Music education supports the development of skills that support learning and ultimately academic achievement.

  8. Drama education is associated with improved reading comprehension, skills in writing and math, and verbal test scores.

  9. Visual arts education, and particularly associated thinking strategies, can benefit students in other subjects, such as science.

When researching schools make sure to inquire about their arts curriculum. This is particularly important for the primary aged children as art plays a vital roll in their development.

This article was provided by Limai Academy as a public service announcement. If you want to learn more about our school, contact us at Limai Academy in Gardena (424) 329-0471 / /

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