Arts in Education

Research Question: What about the Arts benefits students’ overall growth and education? How can we as parents and Educators help our students to achieve through arts integration?

From the Author:

As a part of my “Critical Issues in Education” Course at Cincinnati Christian University I was challenged to participate in a research project on the topic of Arts in the Classroom. This website page serves as a way for me to express and state my findings and thoughts through the research experience. I hope that this page helps you to see and learn more about the value and level of Arts in the Classroom!

– Sarah Grace Griswold

kids hands paint

What’s this project about?

This project serves as a way to represent, present and talk about the issue of Arts in Education. According to, “Arts integration goes beyond including art projects in class; it is a teaching strategy that seamlessly merges arts standards with core curricula to build connections and provide engaging context.” Arts integration allows students to associate and put together information in their own minds. According to the Multiple Intelligence theory, people learn through many different styles ands strategies. Some of these strategies might be visual, spatial, sound, and kinesthetic art. Currently, our Education systems are limiting and minimalizing this experience for students. According to budget cuts and school set-backs, music, band and art programs are among the first programs to be eliminated in public school systems.

The NNew_York_Times_logo_500ew York Times stated in 2008 that “It is estimated that by the end of this year, more than 25% of public high schools will have completely dismantled the arts. (Caughlan, 2008)”.

As an Education student and advocator for the Arts, I’ve been able to experience and see where children are being limited and are not being given the opportunities to grow with the arts as a main point. As a part of this research project, I had the opportunity to conduct interviews with parents, teachers, principles, involved parents and students themselves. According to the National Endownment for the Arts, Arts and music education programs are mandatory in countries that rank consistently among the highest for math and science test scores, like Japan, Hungary, and the Netherlands. In America, Federal funding for the arts and humanities rolls in around $250 million a year, while the National Science Foundation is funded around $5 billion.

As a result, teachers, parents and school participants need to be aware of the issue. We also need to be able to recognize the need for change and promote the change that has to come in our classrooms. We must find a way to combat this issue and allow our students to grow up in the best way possible. I hope that this webpage allows you to be more aware of the issue and lack of arts integration and that it provides you with ways to incorporate and support arts in classrooms around you. By providing awareness of this issue, I hope to inspire you to act and take a stand for students in our current education system to provide them with well-balanced and professionally creative curriculum in school systems.

How do the Arts help students’ growth?

By incorporating the arts in a classroom, students are to learn through many different educational mediums and methods. According to the multiple Intelligences Theory developed by Dr. Howard Gardner, children need to learn and can learn in at least 7 different ways. Almost all of these “smarts” can be incorporated and used through the arts.



Art allows children to connect to topics and theories. Children who are art advanced have proved to be more academically and educationally prepared for higher education. Students need to be able to experience as much change and difference as they possibly can. This allows them to become functioning adults and social students in the school systems and out in the the real world.


“The fact that we do not value the arts is just heartbreaking.” – Tonya Staggs, Preschool Teacher

“Personally, the arts have provided me with a way to love my job. I love coming to work each day to teach young folks. I love to see growth.”- Dr. Jackson, Music Teacher/Retired Principal 

“I distinctly remember the way that the more artistic teachers taught, and I can honestly say that I remember more from their classes.” – Beth Welker, Heavily Involved Parent

In Joan Isenberg and Mary Jalongo’s book “Creative Thinking and Arts-Based Learning” they point out and demonstrate many of the strong standpoints for the Arts:

  • “Play is children’s natural resource for developing social and cognitive skills that affect their present and future social competence.”
  • “Art is a language through which the child can communicate understanding.”
  • “Arts integration is an intentional effort to build a set of relationships between learning in the arts and learning in other subjects.”
  • “The personal inclinations developed by the arts include such things as learning to play with images, ideas, and feelings, recognizing and constructing the multiple meanings of events, and perceiving things from various perspectives.”
  • “For a classroom activity to qualify as art, it must value process as well as product, emphasize originality rather than conformity, allow children to retain ownership of their work, and develop an appreciation of mixtures and balances.”
  • “Understanding children’s art depends on an appreciation of the child as artist, knowledge of the developmental sequence in children’s art, an understanding of the principles of art education, and a recognition of the many contributions art makes to children’s overall development.”
  • “To support the goals of art education, teachers should locate quality art and art reproductions from many sources and discuss these works skillfully with children. Critical Issues in art programs for young children include health and safety considerations as well as the selection, presentation, evaluation, storage, and display of art and art materials.”
  • “Art is a true curricular basic, a way of knowing that is just as valuable in the real world as other types of know-how.”

How can specific art forms promote and create learning?

Specific art forms help to promote and stimulate different portions of students’ brains. To simplify this idea, here is a list of ways that the following art forms can promote and create learning and individual thinking in the classroom or at home.


  • Dance – As stated by Connie Bergstein Dow in ‘The Power of Creative Dance’, “Dance can have a powerful impact in children’s daily lives because it is both a physical activity and a vehicle for self-expression. Dance and creative movement allow students to access and use their kinesthetic learning styles and learn in a different format. By allowing students to get up and move, they will have a stronger overall educational experience.

To learn more about Dance in the power of creative movement, check out the article “Young Children and Movement: The Power of Creative Dance”“ by Connie Bergstein Dow.


  • Music – Music alone is packed with math and logic. While children are singing and learning rhythm, they are learning mathematical symbols and how poems can be incorporated to tell a story.

“Like all the best learning experiences in early childhood, music activities simultaneously promote development in multiple domains. Singing a lullaby while rocking a baby stimulates early language development, promotes attachment, and supports an infant’s growing spatial awareness as the child experiences her body moving in space” (Parlakian – Beyond Twinkle, Twinkle: Using Music with Infants and Toddlers).

Music is and should be used as an outlet for many different periods of growth in infants, kids and teens. It promotes social-emotional skills, physical motor skills, cognitive skills and language and literacy skills.

For more information about music with infants and toddlers, check out the article “Beyond Twinkle, Twinkle: Using Music with Infants and Toddlers” by Rebecca Parlakian.


  • Theatre/Drama – By asking children to read a script out loud or to follow along with a skit, they are practicing their Reading Fluency. This practice of acting allows children to gain confidence in stage presence, public speaking and communication with others.
  • Visual Art – This type of art allows children to associate colors, shapes, spatial skills and creative thinking onto a picture of page of art. By allowing students to experience and learn about visual art, they will have the opportunity to grow in this mindset of appreciation and creativity.



What happens in the Ohio Department of Education? 

As a future educator in Ohio, my natural focus is to gravitate towards Ohio’s viewpoint on the issue. On the Ohio Department of Education website, I found a very lengthy research journal from 2013 that covers a large aspect of facts and projects about the implementation of Arts in the classroom from preschool to high school during 2009-2010. According to this document, Ohio is vastly ahead of its time with advancement of Arts in some areas, but it is extremely lacking in a lot of implementation and statistics.ODE-logo

Based on ODE and Status Survey data, the key findings presented in this report are as follows:

  1. Ninety-three percent of all Ohio public schools provided access to some arts instruction in 2009-2010.
    1. Of that 93 percent, students in 97 percent of traditional public schools and 61 percent of the 246 community schools had arts instruction.
    2. Ten percent of major urban public schools provided no access to the arts.
    3. Approximately 54,700 students in Ohio’s public schools did not have access to arts instruction in school during 2009-2010.
  2. Access to dance and drama/theatre was limited in Ohio’s K-12 public schools:
    1. Four percent of elementary, 1 percent of middle and 7 percent of high schools offered instruction in dance.
    2. Two percent of elementary, 6 percent of middle and 39 percent of high schools offered instruction in drama/theatre.
  3. Access to gifted education services in the arts also was limited:
    1. Forty-two percent of schools reported that they identified students gifted in the visual and performing arts.
    2. Of the 19,771 students identified as gifted, 1,048 received gifted education services.
  4. Many of the conditions that facilitate high-quality arts instruction were widely present in Ohio’s schools in 2009-2010
    1. Eighty-three percent of Ohio arts educators were licensed in the disciplines they taught.
    2. Ninety percent of public schools reported implementing Ohio’s arts learning standards and 94 percent reported assessing their students in the arts.
    3. Sixty-four percent of schools provided teacher professional development in the arts.
  5. Use of dedicated facilities and equipment for arts instruction varied by arts discipline and increased in both the middle school and high school levels.
  6. Seventy-eight percent of schools reported that no one at the district level was responsible for implementing and evaluating arts programs.
  7. Student enrollment in the arts dropped sharply in high school. Median high school arts enrollment was below 30 percent in 2009-2010.
  8. Student enrollment in the arts varied across district types. Students in high-income districts participated at lower rates than those in high-poverty districts.

Click here to view the full documentStatus of Arts Education in Ohio

Of these statistics, several numbers and points stand out as unhealthy and difficult in the Education Field:

1.b. Ten percent of major urban public schools provided no access to the arts. – This shows that the arts in urban public schools have no access or availability and children in these areas are learning without a proper and balanced education system available to them.

1.c. Approximately 54,700 students in Ohio’s public schools did not have access to arts instruction in school during 2009-2010.  – That’s 54,700 students that are completely limited and challenged in the Education field. These children are being taught in a way that is limiting their brains and is limiting their ability to learn about different cultures in the arts.

3.a. Four percent of elementary, 1 percent of middle and 7 percent of high schools offered instruction in dance. – Children learn through the aspect of creative movement. According to Connie Bergstein Dow in the article “The Power of Creative Dance” from NAEYC magazine, “Creative movement gives children opportunities to move in new ways and helps them learn that there can be more than one solution to a question, a problem, or task.” Creative movement and dance specifically helps children to be able to focus on problems and have the ability to come to conclusions on their own. What happens to the 96% of students that don’t have the ability to have this dance and movement instruction?

2.b. Two percent of elementary, 6 percent of middle and 39 percent of high schools offered instruction in drama/theatre. – For this statistic, it’s important to recognize that the percent goes up with age, however the numbers are still in the very lower percentile. “With early elementary and preschool ages, watching conflict among the characters in a theatre production can be a great way to introduce and talk about conflict resolution.” (Friedman – Conversations about Young Audiences). Children who participate in drama and theatre will have the access to participate and be a part in this conflict and practice in the real world.

3.a. Forty-two percent of schools reported that they identified students gifted in the visual and performing arts.

3.b. Of the 19,771 students identified as gifted, 1,048 received gifted education services. – Students who are excelling greatly in this field are being limited to their ability and opportunities to learn. Almost 18,000 students that are listed as gifted in the arts are not being provided and accommodated for their abilities. But does this happen with other objects or skills? What about a student who is involved and excels in a sports program? They will have plenty of opportunities to grow and become the best athlete. They may even have the opportunity to play on different teams and excel through different levels. So many gifted and talented artists are being forgotten about and are not being encouraged because of the lack of accommodation in our school systems.

6. Seventy-eight percent of schools reported that no one at the district level was responsible for implementing and evaluating arts programs. – If there is no district level of evaluation, there won’t be a professional and strategic program that stays current and well balanced. We have to see the need for a higher level arts advocate to provide awareness for student’s talents.


 So why are the Arts being left out of our current school systems?

  • As a part of my research, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Deborah L. Jackson who has been an educator for 15 years in the public school throughout various grades and age levels, she was a school principal for 2 years, and she has been a music teacher for 8 years, she is currently a professor of Education at Central State Community College on top of her teaching positions. In addition to her classroom experience, she has professional development and collegiate education to back her up. She has a PHD from UConn with a Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction, an Associates and Bachelors in Music Education with an emphasis in audio visual technology, and has received several educational licensures.

We talked about how the Arts are forgotten about because of the aggressive culture and emphasis on school testing. “Our testing policies are taking over our communities and class culture” (Jackson). Oftentimes principals of school leaders will take away the arts to give more time for test prep or test culture. They think that this way of thinking is going to help them by providing better test scores, but in reality this is hindering the students’ overall growth. Arts provide children with a change, a break from the classroom, something that is different in growth, or something that promotes the right side of the brain.

In addition to school testing, the arts have become a “budget killer”. Oftentimes, schools will eliminate the arts all together simply because of the financial aspect that comes with the initial set up. Unfortunately, school officials and representatives aren’t able to see the major significance that comes from these arts programs, and when art programs begin they will be limited financially from the beginning. Too often school art programs are cut before they have the opportunity to grow and achieve the goals needed to show the money standards. 



  • I also had the pleasure to Interview Jason Meagrow, a young father and parent to two children that are currently in the Ohio public school system.

Meagrow stated, “On the one hand, I believe that we need to bring art back in the classroom. But on the other hand, none of the art problems are talked about in the everyday world.” He talked about how, as an education system, this issue is not presented and therefore won’t receive appropriate funding. “As a parent of a student, I haven’t heard much about the arts in our kids’ classrooms. This type of issue doesn’t come across my radar as a parent.”

There isn’t enough strong research and evidence to present the issue in the current day and age. Oftentimes Art program cuts and eliminations will go under the radar, they won’t be mentioned on the news or in the educational community. Dr. Jackson mentioned a personal example that she got to experience. She she talked about one principal that she worked under who had such a vision for the school. This principal got the entire school heavily involved in an “Arts Week” campaign, that promoted and exposed the students to many different art forms. This week allowed students to make connections and to learn how to view many forms of life.  Situations like these allow children to be actively engaged and opened up to the world of art. This community promoted the arts involvement and encouraged the students to be more open and creative with their funding

“For my high school student, he isn’t required to take an art class”. – Beth Welker, Heavily Involved Parent

Students aren’t required to be a part of the art programs anymore. They’re expected to take a physical education credit, but they don’t have to be involved in a specific art form. These types of students may completely miss out on the opportunity because they may want to have an easier schedule or another free class period.

What about specific educational subjects?

As stated, the Arts provide ways and opportunities for students to grow and achieve in the classroom. Through my interviews and topics, here are a few example ideas to promote the arts throughout the core curriculum classes. Additional ideas are provided under the “Resources for Teachers” subject line.books

  • Reading and Literacy – Reading can be promoted through poems, class plays, or even silent acting. These types of activities can allow children to become more aware of the story to explain and formulate their own thinking and writing responses.
  • Mathematics – As a way to teach Math, music rhythms and beats can be used to determine and incorporate fractions, patterns and logic. Students will have the ability to learn mathematical skills and will have a better memory and logical thinking system.
  • Social Studies – Art History and appreciation should be taught in a specific format. Students need to be able to experience the art through the history and story behind the structures.
  • Science – Movement and kinetic energy can be taught through dance and large group activities. Dance and Drama can both be used as a gateway into the difficult scientific concepts and materials. And this method might provide students with the best ability to recall the information and remember it in the long run.

What’s the History behind Arts based instruction?

Since one can remember, art has been involved as a part of daily life. Even Aristotle talked of how art has to be involved in an Educational setting:

“In the eighth book of Politics, written around 350 BCE, Aristotle advocates the inclusion of drawing in education. He divides education into four branches of instruction: reading and writing, gymnastic exercise, music, and sometimes drawing. Aristotle felt that artistic training included mastery of a medium and gaining knowledge of one’s environment.” – University of unnamedNorthern Texas Project

Over the years, art has become a way for people to appreciate and formulate thinking. For example, as America founded school systems, children were encouraged to participate in plays, sewing and making crafts and specialized foods. In addition to this cultural change, art has played a major part in restoring and keeping specific parts of historical evidence and fact.

To learn more about Art History in Education, check out this online source that is packed with research and historical evidence that was created at the University of Northern Texas:

What’s the Solution?

There has to be change in Education. As stated and proven, Arts provide children with opportunities to grow as individuals and students. Logically, there are two solutions that can be proposed to change this issue.

#1) Education programs have to include and promote arts-based classrooms. Schools can’t just get rid of arts classes as the first cut-back to budget changes. Music, Drama, Dance, Art, and Band courses should be offered for all students as they are continuing in their education. Whether it’s a private or public school district, schools need to provide their students with these life-changing experiences to promote their growth.

#2) Teachers need to include and integrate arts concepts and ideas into the common classroom. As a whole, teachers need to find more ways to function and work around their students’ needs to benefit the student. By incorporating music, movement and creativity into the classroom, children will have the opportunity to enjoy learning and have fun with their daily school activities.

Together, both of these solutions create a balanced and more appropriate education system for our students to grow in the best type of environment. Our students should have the opportunity to think for themselves and foster individual creativity. By allowing students to experience the arts in a specific class and with added teacher influence, students will be able to learn through many different and unique aspects.

Resources for Teachers:

Edutopia: This website is packed with lots of great pre-made lesson plans that incorporate the arts in the classroom for 6-8th grades.

McQuillen Studies: This website has several different elementary, middle and high school lesson plans that work specifically with ELA integration.

  • Food for Thought:  As an educator, it’s our job to help our students grow and succeed. Whether it’s in a normal education setting, or in a special arts classroom we need to be particular about including and incorporating arts into our lessons to promote student growth.

Resources for Parents:

Here’s a brochure that explains and promotes the awareness in just a few sentences. I hope that this information is useful to you and can provide you with a new level of awareness for your child’s education.

Click Here for a brochure that talks about Parent Involvement as an Arts Advocate in the Classroom from me as a future classroom teacher.

  • Food for Thought: Art museums, theaters, dance studies and music halls are located all over the world! Children who experience these types of situations will be able to appreciate the experience and the nature of this rich history. I’d encourage you to take your children or students on a special trip to visit the local art center, see a theatre production, or even to the ballet.


Final Thoughts/Conclusion:

I hope that through this webpage you have been able to see the major significance the arts have in the life of a developing child. In an educational setting, children need to have the ability to have access to many different art forms and experiences. As a whole, the arts help any person to learn more about their potential as a human being and as an individual. I hope that through these statistics and resources that you are able to see the significant need for an arts based support system in our public schools. Art programs can’t be the first thing to get cut anymore. Arts programs have to be fully supported by the community and by the school systems to help promote and lead student growth and learning.

– Sarah Grace Griswold


B. Welker, Personal Communication, February 27, 2016.

D. Jackson, Personal Communication, March 2, 2016.

Dow, C. B. (2010). Young Children and Movement: The Power of Creative Dance. YC: Young Children, 65(2), 30-35.

Friedman, S. (2010). Theater, Live Music, and Dance: Conversations about Young Audiences. YC: Young Children, 65(2), 36-41.

Geist, K., Geist, E. A., & Kuznik, K. (2012). The Patterns of Music. YC: Young Children, 67(1), 74-79.

Isenberg, J. P., & Jalongo, M. R. (2006). Creative thinking and arts-based learning: Preschool through fourth grade (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Merrill/Prentice Hall.

J. Meagrow, Personal Communication, February 27, 2016.

Keeley, D. (2012, August 29). Lesson Plans and Resources for Arts Integration. Retrieved March 18, 2016, from

Kemple, K. M., Batey, J. J., & Hartle, L. C. (2004). Music Play: Creating Centers for Musical Play and Exploration. YC: Young Children, 59(4), 30-36.

Kennedy, R. (2006). Guggenheim Study Suggests Arts Education Benefits Literacy Skills. Retrieved February 09, 2016, from

K. Meagrow, Personal Communication, February 27, 2016.

Nabori, M. (2012, August 29). How the Arts Unlock the Door to Learning. Retrieved March 18, 2016, from

McQuillen, C. (2014). ELA Connect. Retrieved March 18, 2016, from

M. Hess, Personal Communication, February 24, 2016.

Parlakian, R., & Lerner, C. (2010). Beyond Twinkle, Twinkle: Using Music with Infants and Toddlers. YC: Young Children, 65(2), 14-19.

S. Griswold, Personal Communication, February 28, 2016.

T. Staggs, Personal Communication, February 18, 2016.

“Arts Education in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools, 1999-2000 and 2009-2010”, National Center for Education Statistics, 2012. Web Accessed February 9, 2016.

National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, “Re-Investing in Arts Education: Winning America’s Future Through Creative Schools.” The President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. Accessed February 9, 2016.