The Benefits of Fine Arts and Physical Education

The Benefits of Fine Arts and Physical Education In ECE

Fine arts and physical education programs are being removed from elementary schools all over the country to allow more time for academic instruction. The state of Ohio recognizes the importance of these subjects, this is why in 2009 Governor Strickland and the state legislature pasted House Bill 1, known as the Education Opportunity Act. This act creates a foundation for Ohio’s long-term progress by investing in children and their education. The law places an emphasis on teaching and learning in the classroom; a new school funding system that equalizes opportunity; stronger family, school and community partnerships; and greater academic and fiscal accountability.


For more information about The Ohio Education Opportunity Act

Benefits of Music in Early Childhood Education

There are many benefits to keeping music part of the school day. Music in elementary schools is more than just a cute program or a teacher work period. Studies have shown positive associations between music education and increased abilities in language, mathematics and spatial learning.


Music and the Brain


 “When you look at children ages two to nine, one of the breakthroughs in that area is music’s benefit for language development, which is so important at that stage,” says Luehrisen from Children’s Music Workshop. While children come into the world ready to decode sounds and words, music education helps enhance those natural abilities. “Growing up in a musically rich environment is often advantageous for children’s language development,” she says. But Luehrisen adds that those inborn capacities need to be “reinforced, practiced, celebrated,” which can be done at home or in a more formal music education setting.

A research team at Stanford University showed that music engages the areas of the brain involved with paying attention, making predictions and updating the event in memory. The effect of music education on language development can be seen in the brain. “Recent studies have clearly indicated that musical training physically develops the part of the left side of the brain known to be involved with processing language, and can actually wire the brain’s circuits in specific ways. Linking familiar songs to new information can also help imprint information on young minds,” the group claims.

Another study led by Ellen Winner, professor of psychology at Boston College, and Gottfried Schlaug, professor of neurology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, found changes in the brain images of children who underwent 15 months of weekly music instruction and practice. The students in the study who received music instruction had improved sound discrimination and fine motor tasks, and brain imaging showed changes to the networks in the brain associated with those abilities, according to the Dana Foundation, a private philanthropic organization that supports brain research.


Music and Academics


Research also shows an increase in IQ scores and overall test scores. A study published in 2007 by Christopher Johnson, professor of music education and music therapy at the University of Kansas, revealed that students in elementary schools with superior music education programs scored around 22 percent higher in English and 20 percent higher in math scores on standardized tests, compared to schools with low-quality music programs, regardless of socioeconomic disparities among the schools or school districts. Johnson compares the concentration that music training requires to the focus needed to perform well on a standardized test.

Listening to soft classical music (background music) in the classroom when studying or learning a new topic and having the children listen to the same music when taking the test can trigger memories about the topic and improve test scores. Music in the classroom can also set the mood for the class. Listening to music can improve the behavior in the children in the classroom by setting the mood for the room. . Researchers in England measured the heart rate and temperature of unruly kids in classrooms, and then added calming music to the environment. The kids had lower heart rates and temperatures after the music, likely improving focus and behavior.

11 Facts about Music in Education

1. Children who study music tend to have larger vocabularies and more advanced reading skills than their peers who do not participate in music lessons.

2. Studying music primes the brain to comprehend speech in a noisy background. •Children with learning disabilities or dyslexia who tend to lose focus with more noise could benefit greatly from music lessons.

3. Research shows that music is to the brain as physical exercise is to the human body. Music tones the brain for auditory fitness and allows it to decipher between tone and pitch.

4. Children who study a musical instrument are more likely to excel in all of their studies, work better in teams, have enhanced critical thinking skills, stay in school, and pursue further education.

5. In the past, secondary students who participated in a music group at school reported the lowest lifetime and current use of all substances (tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs).

6. Schools with music programs have an estimated 90.2 percent graduation rate and 93.9 percent attendance rate compared to schools without music education who average 72.9 percent graduation and 84.9 percent attendance.

7. Regardless of socioeconomic status or school district, students who participate in high-quality music programs score 22 percent better on English and 20 percent better on Math standardized exams.

8. Much like expert technical skills, mastery in arts and humanities is closely correlated to high earnings.

9. A study from Columbia University revealed that students who study arts are more cooperative with their teachers and peers, have higher levels self-confidence, and are more equipped to express themselves and their ideas.

10. Elementary age children who are involved  in music lessons show greater brain development and memory improvement within a year than children who receive no musical training.

11. Learning and mastering a musical instrument improves the way the brain breaks down and understands human language, making music students more apt to pick up a second language.  

Additional information about the benefits of music in early education:



The Advantages of Having Art In Schools



**Child Trends Data Bank reports that 84 percent of American parents believe the arts are important in their children's lives**

Cognitive Skills:

o  Raises students’ scores on standardized tests.


Example- The Developing Reading Education with Arts Methods program provides art education to elementary school students. Texas third graders who participated in the program in 2011 increased their reading scores on standardized tests by an average of 87 points. Art also teaches spatial reasoning skills, which play a critical role in math and on IQ tests, so students who master art could see a boost in math performance and IQ scores.

Analytical Skills:

o  Fine and performing arts classes teach students to tackle a problem using a variety of approaches (analytical and cognitive thinking skills).

Emotional Outlet:

o  Teachers emphasized that art classes helped kids develop strong social skills and a healthy outlet for emotions.

o  Art can be particularly helpful for children who struggle with difficult emotions or family problems and those who have a hard time talking about their feelings.

o  Art also helps children adopt different perspectives, which can play a role in developing social and emotional skills.


A 2010 study published in "Arts Education Policy Review" surveyed teachers about the impact of arts in the classroom.

Different Learning Styles:

o  Art classes give children another approach to learning that may activate the imaginations and ignite the interests of children who struggle in other classes.

o  Struggling children may benefit from arts education and that art classes can help children develop impulse control, resulting in better behavior in other classes and higher academic achievement.


Neurologists Sam Wang and Sandra Aamodt emphasize in their book, "Welcome to Your Child's Brain".

YouTube Video: Benefits of art education

***For more information on the advantages of art in school and some studies that were conducted go to

***Also, for additional information in the benefits of arts education in schools go to this website:


The Benefits of Physical Education


It is a known fact that physical activity improves overall health.  Not only does it improve circulation, increase blood flow to the brain, and raise endorphin levels, which all help to reduce stress, improve mood and attitude, and calm children, physically active students may also achieve more academically.  Physically fit students are less likely to miss school, partake in risky behaviors, get pregnant, or attempt suicide, which are all associated with better outcomes in school. Several studies have also stated that providing increased time for physical activity, it can lead to better concentration, and higher test scores in reading, math and writing.

Despite the wealth of knowledge concerning the benefits of physical education and physical activity, only 8% of elementary schools, 6.4% of middle schools, and 5.8% of high schools provide daily physical education to all of its students. Even when physical education programs are in place, most students are not engaged in vigorous physical activity for the majority of their class time.  It is estimated that boys only spend about 18 minutes engaged in moderate and vigorous activity and girls spend about 16 minutes. These statistics only improve negative outcomes in school performance and health outcomes, and a lack of concentration during class time.

Physical education programs are not often seen as a primary concern to these administrators since many believe that student health is not of concern to schools but should be an issue that parents address.  There have not been any mandates for schools to improve physical education despite the recommendations of over 40 health, educational, and social service organizations that student health and education are mutually dependent. Additionally, budget constraints are frequently cited as reasons for cut backs on health and physical education, especially in low-income areas.

The National Association for Sport and Physical Education recommend that children be engaged in at least 60 minutes of age-appropriate physical activity on all or most days of the week. Implementing various opportunities for physical activity in school, most importantly required daily physical education classes, promotes the idea of healthy living for children which can bring about long term changes in activity levels into adulthood as well as improve academic achievement.

For more information on the benefits of physical education in the elementary classroom, visit

 Kindermusik in the K-2 Curriculum To view another site on Kindermusik, click here: 

This site is about a specific music program (Kindermusik) and how it can be used in the general education classroom. On this site are other tips on how to incorporate music more in the early childhood classroom.