National Arts in Education Week is upon us, and it is a wonderful time to reflect on where arts education has been and where it can go with impassioned arts advocacy. K-12 arts students and educators have endured a rocky road through the pandemic, and their perseverance must continue as we head into a new normal of education in the United States.

The path to a new normal began with the complete shutdown of in-person learning. Many schools stopped useful learning activities in March 2020 for the remainder of the school year. Schools were quickly forced to implement a virtual learning platform. This came with no experience on how to instruct children away from the classroom and little familiarity with employing the technology for virtual learning to occur. As administrators and parents rushed to identify how best to limit learning loss in subjects like math, reading, and English, students and educators felt the pinch in arts education as they considered how best to move forward past administrative and technological restrictions.

What transpired was an organic continuation of the fundamentals that make the arts worth performing and teaching to our students. The world saw the masses singing and playing musical instruments to cope with isolation forced by the pandemic, and students used the arts to cope with a new way of life.

The arts improved the social and emotional well-being of students during the pandemic. All arts activities exhibit Social Emotional Learning (SEL) that allow children to develop their empathy, self-efficacy, social awareness, and relationship building. Examples of arts education elevating students during a period of mental angst are plentiful across the country. The arts provided stability during the pandemic. When students returned to school—for some after a two-year hiatus—art teachers, who often follow children through several grades, were the only educators they recognized. This fostered the rebuilding of school communities that continues today.

Read the full article about arts education after the pandemic by Tooshar Swain at ARTS Blog.