5 Skills Children Learn From the Arts That Help Them Succeed in Life

Growing up in today’s world presents challenges that didn’t exist 20 years ago, so how are parents going to equip their children with the tools to overcome road blocks and launch them on a path to success? An education that includes the arts is essential to a child’s success in developing a fulfilling life. Skills developed through participation in the arts are increasingly important in the workplace and therefore, key to a successful career.

1. CREATIVITY
Now more than ever, employers are looking for creative thinkers who can move their business forward, not just academic achievers who know how to maintain the status quo. Being able to think on your feet, approach tasks from different perspectives and think ‘outside of the box’ will distinguish your child from others. In an arts program, your child will 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. If children have practice thinking creatively, it will come naturally to them now and in their future career.

DEVELOPING CREATIVITY: HOW WILL YOU KNOW?

  • They initiate new ideas
  • They express ideas in unique ways and from diverse perspectives
  • They seek to make their piece or performance different from others
  • They use something in a new way or for a different purpose

2. CONFIDENCE
For many people, stage fright is one of their greatest fears. Some people get physically ill at the thought of speaking in front of their colleagues or making a presentation to clients. The skills developed through theatre, not only train you how to convincingly deliver a message, but also build the confidence you need to take command of the stage. Experience in theatre gives children practice stepping out of their comfort zone and allows them to make mistakes and learn from them in rehearsal. This process gives children the confidence to perform in front of large audiences. Imagine what children could achieve with all the confidence they need to succeed.

DEVELOPING CONFIDENCE: HOW WILL YOU KNOW?

  • They volunteer opinions and ideas
  • They walk with their head high and a smile on their face
  • They are willing to try new things
  • They are comfortable meeting new people

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? Without even realizing it kids that participate in the arts are consistently being challenged to solve problems. All this practice problem solving develops children’s skills in reasoning and understanding. The arts teaches children to approach problems as exciting opportunities to challenge their skills and creativity. Art is a powerful avenue to work through problems that may occur in life. It allows children to imagine possible solutions and test them out on their peers. This is a valuable exercise that will help develop important problem solving skills necessary for success in any career.

DEVELOPING PROBLEM SOLVING SKILLS: HOW WILL YOU KNOW?

  • They approach a problem as an exciting challenge
  • They analyze a problem by asking relevant questions
  • They are able to make complex choices by weighing possible solutions in light of the context
  • They are open to trying multiple ideas until a solution is found

4. PERSEVERANCE
Life presents us with many challenges that require us to be dedicated, persistent, and patient, whether it be writing a 10-page history paper or working on a multi-layered presentation for the CEO of your company. Experience in the arts helps kids understand and appreciate where persistence can get you. When a child picks up a violin for the first time, she/he knows that 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. In an increasingly competitive world, where people are being asked to continually develop new skills, perseverance is essential to achieving success.

DEVELOPING PERSEVERANCE: HOW WILL YOU KNOW?

  • They see mistakes as opportunities to learn
  • They not give up on something they want to learn
  • They believe that goals are achievable even though they may present challenges
  • They ask for coaching from others more skilled then they are

5. FOCUS
The ability to focus is a key skill developed through ensemble work. While participating in music, children must watch and listen to each other in order to know when and how to make a contribution to a piece of music. The same applies to experiences in dance and theatre. Keeping a balance between listening and contributing involves a great deal of concentration and focus. It requires each participant to not only think about their role, but how their role contributes to the big picture of what is being created. Recent research has shown that participation in the arts improves children’s abilities to concentrate and focus in other aspects of their lives.

DEVELOPING FOCUS: HOW WILL YOU KNOW?

  • They make eye contact and angle their body towards someone they are listening to
  • They respond with an understanding of the question
  • They are able to focus on a task despite distraction
  • They are observant of the world around them

Help your kids stand out, be heard and dream big. Choose the arts and give your kids the artistic edge. For that is what young people need to succeed in today’s society.

For more information about Lisa’s ideas on the arts visit her blog at: http://www.theartisticedge.ca. Lisa is also the Executive Director of Horizon Arts Camp, a professional performing and visual arts summer camp in Toronto, Canada. Visit: http://www.horizonartscamp.org for more info!

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