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Research shows that introducing kids to the arts can draw better outcomes later in life

The arts are a great way to boost everything from literacy skills and math scores to problem-solving skills and mental health

Now that the school year is in full swing, it’s a good time to think about those extracurricular activities for kids at every age. In planning, it’s especially important to find those activities that are fun for kids, help them learn a new skill and offer a sense of accomplishment.

The good news is that the arts are proven to be enjoyable and educational at the same time.

And there’s evidence to back this up.

A comprehensive report conducted by the Arts Council of England compiling research studies done since 2010 reveals the positive relationships between participation in the arts and educational achievement and outcomes later in life.

The report highlights specific educational benefits of participating in arts programs like:

  • Taking part in drama or library activities improves overall literacy skills.
  • Playing music improves aptitude in math, early language acquisition and early literacy.
  • Participation in structured arts activities increases cognitive abilities.

The research also shows that the impact of arts-based education doesn’t just apply to school-aged children. Longer-term, students from low income neighbourhoods who take part in arts activities at school are three times more likely to get a degree than children from the same demographic who do not. Students who engage in the arts at school are twice as likely to volunteer and 20 per cent more likely to vote as young adults. The employability of students who study the arts is higher and they are more likely to stay in their employment.

Not-for-profit organization, People for Education, looked at research on the benefits of arts education in Ontario, noting that there is extensive evidence to show that the arts support student development in areas ranging from improved spatial reasoning to a deepened motivation for learning.

People for Education also argue that arts education has the potential to enrich students’ creativity and social development, two qualities that are identified in the Ontario Government Ministry of Education’s 21 st Century Competencies as being critical to student success—both in school and beyond.

Similarly, Hill Strategies Research on the arts in Canada sites studies in Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, Vancouver and rural Ontario that shows children displaying “statistically significant improvements” in psychosocial functioning, including program participation, skill development, task completion and pro-social skills.

Where can parents start?

River Run Centre offers access to the arts to children of every age. The Wooly Kinderconcerts introduce the youngest audiences to lively storytelling with the Guelph Symphony Orchestra painting musical landscapes for classic tales.

For audiences a little older, the Park Grocery Family Series brings beloved stories to life. With theatre productions of Jungle Book, Dog Man: The Musical and Charlotte’s Web, these imaginative productions will introduce kids to two literary classics and one current favourite, growing a love of books through live theatre.

For more information on the River Run Centre including a complete list of events, click here or call 519-763-3000