Whether you're an experienced arts educator, or a teacher looking for ways to bring life to your curriculum through visual arts, music, drama and dance, this group will provide a place to meet, share, and imagine!

What can we do to create more interest in the fine arts in children under the age of 13 years old?

Mark V. Williams

As a professional musician who started his musical training at the age of 7, I am disturbed by the lack of interest in music and the arts of our younger generation today. When I began studying music, all of my friends were studying, too. It seemed to be the "thing to do"! However, that is not the case today.

Being one of several young musicians in my elementary and high schools, I had to COMPETE for the job of playing for the school shows, concerts, and providing accompaniment for competitions. However, there seems to be no students within the schools today, who are capable of providing these services. (My assumption is based on the number of schools that call on ME to provide accompaniment for their school shows, concerts, and competitions.)

What can we do to encourage our young children to explore the arts?

Comments (16)

Comment RSS

As a music instructor/choir

Was this helpful?

As a music instructor/choir director I make sure community events are a part of our schedule. I put the spotlight on my 5th and 6th graders to let parents nad community leaders know how important the arts are.

Encouraging Arts in School

Was this helpful?

I believe that the desire to create is an intrinsic part of human nature that is at it's most crucial stage of development in children. I am sure that most students are much more interested in the arts than they are given credit for. As art's budgets are slashed and programs are removed from school, students may not be able to participate in the arts since lessons, materials and opportunity may be difficult to obtain (and pay for) in many families. Making time to connect the arts to what is currently being studied in the classroom is not the same as funding a true arts program, but it may be the only exposure some students have. In primary grades it seems that social studies is the logical choice for "art appreciation"-like activities. Bringing artists into the classroom is always an exciting way to increase awareness as are after school clubs and classes as well as field trips. However, the best way to accomplish this goal, is to actively teach art. If that is impossible in your school district, maybe it is possible to establish links with community-based arts organizations that are able to bring programs into your school or collaborate with your students after school..

Education director at Maui Arts & Cultural Center

Susana Browne, Maui Arts & Cultural Center Education Director

Was this helpful?

I totally agree with what you said.  As an education administrator for an arts and cultural center in a rural community, I know the difficulties of providing an arts education for all kids.  Believe me, if the arts are in a child's education, they thrive and develop a long lasting love and appreciation for all the arts in addition to developing 21st century skills that come with studying the arts.Partnerships between performing arts centers, museums, and school districts are an excellent way to bring the arts into the classroom.  The Kennedy Center's Partners in Education is a national network with over 100 teams all across the country.  I highly recommend their resources.

Performing Arts Consultant

Make art yourself!

Was this helpful?

I totally agree with all of the suggestions from the people above, but I do not think it can be said enough: the Arts belong in the classroom daily!

Every parenting magazine will tell you, babies do not care if you have a good voice! They will just love to hear you sing. The same is true of kids. Be fearless! Sing during morning circle with your students! Discuss, display, and create artwork when you discuss science. Engage in Reader’s Theater, or even better, include writing assignments that ask students to write a scene, and then let them perform their work with their peers! Image what it is like to be the figures from history, and engage the students in role-playing. Play music while your students read and work.

If teachers do not make room for the Arts in the daily classroom, how can you expect your school districts to value it enough to spend money on specials classes and afterschool programs involving the arts? The Arts are not an extra to take up more teaching time. They are a fantastic teaching tool, and they will go a long way to helping your students make connections between their “lessons” and life all around them.

Founder of The Kids for Coltrane Project in Education

Super Heroes for the Arts!

Was this helpful?

I appreciate all of these great comments which continue to empower us as educators. Creating enriching learning environments is our quest. We clearly are finding barriers and there are many frustrations. It is illuminating to read everyone’s ideas, especially those which help us navigate through the thicket. The great generative questions about how to get this all done will move us forward. Sometimes it feels like we are in a little boat stuck in a swamp. The beautiful island is right before us, and we can’t get there, but get there we must! Creativity is vital for the future of this world, not only because of the ideas that must be born from the brilliance that is yearning to breathe freely, but also the humanity that springs from creativity. This is a magnificent global world. We are teaching for a future we cannot see. Educators must help lay the foundation and teaching through the Arts makes perfect sense. Creative thinking leads to understanding and develops richer critical thinking in my view. I have witnessed this first hand in my classroom. We must include the arts in the daily lives of students, and teaching through the arts does just that. When you stand up and do this you become a kind of super hero because it is a terrible injustice to allow children to live in a world without learning through the arts.

Intern at Edutopia, college student, aspiring Educator.


Was this helpful?

Just saw this interesting article this morning about Texas expanding its Fine-Arts requirements next year: http://www.star-telegram.com/2010/07/26/2362219/fine-arts-requirements-f...

Do you think this is enough? Are requirements the key? Should other states follow Texas's lead?

7/8 Drama, Film, Honors & Regular Language Arts

Nothing more important than enriching creativity.

Was this helpful?

I am a broken record. Arts belong in the classroom daily from K to 12. And then in college it must be required that every student have a strong knowledge of Music and Arts Appreciation FOREVER!!
Our nation is moving away more and more from the beauty of the arts.
Arts programs are being cut and our children are being cheated.
Teachers should be demanding more college training in Arts Education.

Without the arts, life is empty and lacks meaning.

I agree with all of you.
The banks and Wall Street could make such a huge difference in Education.

How do we convice legislators that this is important.
It is a huge challenge.

K-8 Music Teacher from Green Bay, Wisconsin

The times, they have changed.

Was this helpful?

One word - Soccer. Look back 30 years ago and find the number of soccer teams in your community - there were very few, if any. Now look, it's everywhere...and kids are playing it about from the time they can run without falling over. It looks like a gaggle of geese around a bowl filled with feed as children run to the ball, having no clue about where it is going or how to get it there. But parents are coaching it, and their kids play...rain or shine.

Now why doesn't that exist in the world of the arts? Perhaps because the arts are viewed as being something that is not a participatory game. It is to be performed by professionals and watched from afar.

The arts are so valuable to our children in their formative years, but as kids come to school you can see that there was less and less exposure to the arts at home. The songs they sing (or don't) the horrible motor control as they haven't gotten through the scribble stage.

A child's doodle, is it art? A sing songy all over the place tune, is it music? To our society that over critiques everything (case in point - American Idol) no it isn't. But the kids can run around the field and eventhough I don't understand all the rules, I can coach - and therefore soccer fills in the gaps.

By the time kids reach an age where they can get involved in school and find that they love music or art (if their programs haven't already been eliminated) their time has been filled with something else.

Now we aren't going to eliminate soccer, but as an arts community, groups need to target children at a younger age. Bring them in before they find something else to fill their time. That is why we have started to target 6 year olds for the Green Bay Boy Choir, so that we can actually beat Cub Scouts to them.

Now can we just get the 24/7 arts channel on cable to compete with the multiple versions of ESPN?

It comes down to language

Was this helpful?

There are so many ways in which humans communicate, lending to many languages within mutually communicable (or sometimes not through words alone) communication systems.
The description of a Mark Rothko painting is nothing like viewing it in a darkened room with a single dimmed spotlight on it. The connotative language of poetry is far removed from the denotative language of a math textbook. Books can be written on symphonies, when they themselves, may have no words at all. Then there's tone of voice, body language, etc.
What I'm getting at is that an understanding of art is entirely necessary within the sphere of human communication. We should be allowed to work with visual and auditory arts, drama/acting/role-playing, breaking down entertainment and news media into its parts. If a student feels the best way to communicate her/his idea is by making a short film rather than writing an essay, there should be in place within the curriculum the ability for student and teacher to negotiate that.
My first foray into art was through comic book illustration. I eventually went to do by BA (Hons) Fine Art in England, utilizing drawing, film, animation, the written word, and several years later it has brought me to learning music. There are so many tools at our disposal to communicate appropriately with one another, that it seems silencing in a way to remove an emphasis on and exposure to the arts. And you wouldn't know that unless you experienced this exposure in the first place.

Was this helpful?

I do not blame sports or other activities for the decline in students participating in arts activities. It is very simple- as many have mentioned above, the arts have not been a priority in schools. When public education cuts these programs, students have fewer opportunities to become involved. Private music lessons are far more costly for families. When schools - or decision-makers in the schools- decide which programs to remove, they are deciding what areas are the priorities for kids. With obesity becoming such a huge problem in our country, most school districts are extremely hesitant to cut physical education programs... and they shouldn't. When standardized test scores are elevated to unreasonable heights, as they are now, time allotted for those subjects on the tests is usually increased. That doesn't leave room for subject areas that are not tested. Even though all the research indicates that students involved in the arts are more likely to be better problem-solvers and think more critically and creatively... when we allow testing to consume our children's education, this is the result. Oddly, though... take a look at which states have the highest standardized test scores and highest graduation rates (and most rigorous standards for graduation), and you will find arts education has a place in those schools. Coincidence? I think not.

see more see less