Why Do Kids Need Art Anyway?

By Tina Wood, Rivendell Art & Music Teacher

“Imagination is the source of every form of human achievement. And it’s the one thing that I believe we are systematically jeopardizing in the way we educate our children and ourselves.” - Ken Robinson

Rivendell Art

With the art show coming up this week, I have been able to look closely at each students’ artwork, as I mount the pieces and get them ready to display. They honestly amaze me. Not because their work is technically superior, or astonishingly original (although some are that as well), but because within these pieces of art, I see little people who cared deeply about their choices, focused all their effort on an imagined outcome, took risks, thought creatively, and then plunged in and created something beautiful to put into the world.

A growing body of research shows myriad benefits to the inclusion of the arts in our children’s education. From increased academic and behavioral benefits to developing a future workforce capable of creative and innovative thought, we have known for many years that arts in elementary education is a necessity, and not just “fluff.” I feel very lucky to be at a school with an administration and parent body that so fully supports our art program, especially when there is both fear and frustration from my art teacher peers around the lack of funding and resources given to the arts in other schools.

Of course, when I asked our Rivendell kids why it’s important to have art as part of their education, they didn’t point to studies of improved test scores, or how the arts increases empathy and compassion in students. Their answers were, “I just love to make things.” And “Art is how we can show who we are,” and my favorite, “I can be creative and figure out how I want something to look, and it’s not wrong.” Their answers portrayed a sense of ownership, creative expression, emotional release, and personal belonging...which are all pretty great reasons in and of themselves!

I hope that as you peruse the galleries at the art show this Friday, and as you discuss your child’s artwork with them in the future, you’ll also reflect on what we, as adults, can learn from these kids. We need art too. If it’s been a while since you created something new, maybe it’s time to jump in, get a little messy, take some risks, and make some art!

Don’t forget, our 3rd Annual Art Show is on Friday, Dec. 6, from 6-8 p.m. See you there!