The creation of art in its various forms is an effective way to stimulate the brain. Research from the University of Sydney and the Australian Council for the Arts demonstrates that involvement in the arts offers wide-ranging benefits for young people – not just in the classroom, but also in life. Students who participate in the arts have higher levels of motivation at school and improved engagement, self-esteem and life satisfaction. It is also recognised that the arts can enhance academic performance.
How does art help students academically? Here are just some of the ways that visual arts can improve your child’s academic performance:
1. Improved marks and graduation rates
A number of studies suggest a link between higher marks and better graduation rates. It is thought that art education helps students to think more creatively and critically and to apply this thought process to other subjects, improving grades and increasing engagement.
2. Enhanced maths skills
Marcus du Sautoy from the University of Oxford highlights the close relationship between maths and art. Though some may perceive the two as contrasting – one being about emotional expression and aesthetic, and the other a world of logic and systems – maths and art go hand-in-hand. Visual arts, in particular, can help your son improve his mathematical performance by providing opportunities to implement his knowledge of geometry, measurements and spatiality. Every time he sketches a shape, carves the surface of a sculpture or takes part in architectural design, geometry is being implemented.
3. Language development
Visual art, particularly through analysis and critique, can contribute to a child’s language development. An instructor from the National Gallery School of Visual Art and Design suggests that through art, students are given a platform to comment on different artworks and to share their feedback. This can help develop your son’s skills in formulating his opinion and articulating his ideas clearly.
4. Encourages problem-solving and critical-thinking
There is an increasing body of research highlighting the correlation between an arts-rich education from an early age and improved confidence, intellectual and problem-solving skills. The 2016 World Economic Forum report on The Future of Jobs predicted that two necessary skills for the future would be problem-solving and creativity. Professor Ted Snell from the University of Western Australia suggests that highly specialised and structured degree courses aimed at a specific job outcome will be redundant in this emerging environment. However, degrees with a strong visual arts foundation will ensure individuals flourish because it teaches students to confront new ways of working, experimenting, learning and creating.
Problem-solving is a skill that is fostered through art. Because art is inherently creative, it enables students to think creatively when looking for solutions to problems. Subject matter experts are stifled by their specialist knowledge and have preconceived ideas; however, artists think only of ideals.
Experts have also found a link between art education and improved critical thinking skills. Visual art teaches children to look at the world more closely and encourages them to look for meaning. Critical thinking is the ability to analyse and evaluate to form a conclusion that is rationally justifiable. The study of visual arts can encourage your son to look for, examine and consider various details by analysing the world around him. This is a vital life skill that can be applied to all subject areas.
5. Builds resilience and reduces stress
It is well known that visual art is a great resource for mental wellbeing. Studies have shown that it can reduce distress, increase self-reflection and self-awareness, alter behaviour and thinking patterns, and normalise heart rate, blood pressure and even cortisol levels. Creating art is also hugely beneficial as it can build resilience and reduce stress. A study into how art can change your brain found that visual art production can significantly improve psychological resilience. The study also showed increased self-awareness as a result of the methodological approaches applied in visual art production. These skills can be beneficial to students in aspects of their studies, helping to improve academic outcomes.
The study of visual arts could help improve your son’s academic results. At home you can create opportunities to discuss, evaluate and create art. Encourage your son to:
- Find geometry, symmetry and measurement in art to highlight the relationship between art and maths.
- Think critically about artworks within the home and in museums and galleries. Ask probing questions such as, “Why do you think the artist portrayed the subject in this way?”, “What do you think this painting says about its place in history?” or “Describe this artwork.”
- Look for ways to improve artwork that he has created. A great way to encourage betterment is to ask your son if there is anything he can change or add to his artwork that will improve it.
Trinity Grammar School encourages your son to realise his potential, pursue his passions and discover his purpose all within the context of a supportive Christian environment. We have guided boys to grow in mind, body and spirit for over a century and we know what boys need to truly flourish and succeed.
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