In The Artistic Edge: 7 Skills Children Need to Succeed in an Increasingly Right Brain World by Lisa Phillips, the author provides insights into how arts programs (theater, art, music and dance) benefit kids. Some of the top 10 skills kids learn from the arts are:
Being able to think on your feet, approach tasks from different perspectives and think ‘outside of the box’. In an arts program, your child may be asked to recite a monologue in 6 different ways, create a painting that represents a memory, or compose a new rhythm to enhance a piece of music.
Theater training gives children practice stepping out of their comfort zones and allows them to make mistakes and learn from them in rehearsal. They gain confidence to perform in front of large audiences.
3. Problem Solving
Artistic creations are born through the solving of problems. How do I turn this clay into a sculpture? How do I portray a particular emotion through dance? How will my character react in this situation?
When a child first picks up an instrument, he knows playing Bach right away is not an option; however, when that child practices, learns the skills and techniques and doesn’t give up, that Bach concerto is that much closer.
Keeping a balance between listening and contributing involves a great deal of concentration. Recent research has shown that participation in the arts improves children’s abilities to concentrate and focus in other aspects of their lives.
6. Non-Verbal Communication
Through experiences in theater and dance education, children learn to break down the mechanics of body language. They experience different ways of moving and how those movements communicate different emotions.
7. Receiving Constructive Feedback
Children learn that feedback is part of learning and it is not something to be offended by or to be taken personally.
Through the arts, children practice working together, sharing responsibility and compromising to accomplish a common goal. When a child performs in a play or dance or music ensemble, he begins to understand that his contribution is necessary for the group.
When kids experience artistic endeavors resulting in a finished product or performance, they learn to associate dedication with the feeling of accomplishment. They develop good work habits, respect for others and respect for each other’s contributions.
When kids practice creating something together, they learn that their actions affect other people. Mistakes can happen, and they do — it’s a great part of the artistic process — but in the arts, you acknowledge them and you move on.