Betsy Landers

Betsy occupies the highest office in PTA as National PTA President. Landers is quick to point out that the real power of PTA lies at the local level and plans to make a “back to basics” approach cornerstone of her tenure as National PTA President. read bio

How to Help Your Children Be Smarter

Many of our schools are staffed with dedicated teachers and administrators, and offer a great curriculum for teaching core academic subjects. But the experts agree that simple reading, writing and arithmetic doesn’t add up to a well-rounded education. The missing ingredient? The fine arts.

Arts education is too-often viewed as a “nice extra” in the school curriculum and is among the first things to disappear when budget cuts are necessary. This approach fails to recognize the fundamental role the arts play in the intellectual, social and emotional development of children. But students who are exposed to the arts demonstrate better critical thinking skills, have higher self-esteem, and perform better in other academic subjects.

The Arts Education Partnership, a non-profit arts advocacy organization, conducted a study of the effects of involvement in the arts on education involving 25,000 students over 10 years. Researchers found major correlations between access to the arts and better school performance for all students, particularly those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds who are more frequently denied arts opportunities. It seems that the creative process engages kids in a way that more traditional classroom learning can’t, making them more connected to school and less likely to drop out.

So how can parents help their children receive quality arts education?

  • By supporting the arts in your child’s school and by building community interest and support for the arts. It might be as simple as volunteering to help out with the school play, or asking your school administrators if you can assist the arts faculty in any way.
  • If there are no arts courses in your child’s school, talk with other parents and teachers about ways to build interest and incorporate this vital part of the learning process into the schedule.
  • The National PTA equips parents to champion arts education through the PTA Reflections Program and the Mary Lou Anderson Reflections Arts Enhancement Grant.  The Reflections Arts Program provides opportunities for students to express themselves and receive positive recognition for their artistic efforts in areas including: dance choreography, film production, literature, musical composition, photography and visual arts.  The Mary Lou Anderson Reflections Arts Enhancement Grant awards matching dollars for schools and student-centered arts education programs to support arts activities, materials, new technologies, techniques, and visiting artists programs.

If your child’s school offers no fine arts opportunities, look for outlets in your community that your child could participate in until school-based programming becomes available. Look for after-school programs at the local museum or community theatre, or classes in the visual or performing arts. In the mean time, continue to advocate for the addition of arts to your school curriculum by talking with school board members and administrators.

Help make your children smarter by exposing them to theatre, dance, music and the visual arts!

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