Giving Compass' Take:

• Getting Smart writes about how arts education shouldn't be separated from main learning, but integrated with other core subjects, such as science and math. Many schools are seeing the benefits of doing so.

• When investing in education initiatives, here's a question worth asking: How integral are arts programs — and are they used in innovative ways?

• If you want to learn more about how arts can improve outcomes, be sure to read this piece on the arts high schools that can be used as models.

For many children, art acts as an outlet to focus on creativity, rather than solely academics. Arts-integration enables students to combine both of those sides of the brain and demonstrate creative skills and academic knowledge.

Students who struggle with traditional academic activities, like writing and reading, typically have their own rhythm in thinking and completing tasks. When art is introduced to a subject that usually challenges them, such as science, they often show teachers in a picture what they won’t show them in a report. In this sense, art provides a different language for them to express what they have learned, which makes sense given creativity’s natural link to critical thinking.

These activities benefit instructional practices on the back end, too. Once a teacher sees a student thrive in demonstrating curricular knowledge through a piece of art, they can approach future lessons in a different way. For example, a teacher might work with a student 1:1 to visually map out a concept the class is discussing (even something like sketchnoting can be helpful).

Arts-integration is particularly beneficial to underserved student groups such as students living in poverty, or coming into the classroom from an immigrant family. Art facilitates a certain comfort in the classroom, because students can participate in it regardless of background. The comfort and confidence built through art exercises then allow students to really dig into other adjustments, such as learning a new language.

Read the full article about the benefits of arts integration in schools by Bonnie Allen at Getting Smart.