A new report from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) reviews research studies documenting how the arts benefit children eight and younger.
Early childhood engagement in music-based activities (including singing, playing musical instruments, or dancing), drama/theater, and the visual arts and crafts leads to positive social-emotional outcomes. The report offers credible evidence that arts participation in early childhood is strongly linked to the following types of benefit:
1. Social skills development: helping, sharing, caring, empathy, and the capacity for other kinds of healthy interpersonal behavior
2. Emotion regulation ability: mood control and positive changes in affect and expression
Additional studies are needed to explore how young children benefit from storytelling or the literary arts, or arts participation specifically through electronic media, as well as examining cognitive and physiological benefits.
Download the free report at https://www.arts.gov/sites/default/files/arts-in-early-childhood-dec2015-rev.pdf
The Arts in Early Childhood: Social and Emotional Benefits of Arts Participation examines and summaries research studies that provide growing evidence about how arts participation helps young children develop strong social and emotional skills. Linda Smith, Deputy Assistant Secretary and Inter-Departmental Liaison for Early Childhood Development/Administration for Children & Families/U.S. Department of Health & Human Services summarized the importance of this study, “Art activities like singing, dancing, and visual arts are associated with an array of positive outcomes, including pro-social skills, cooperation, independence, emotional regulation, and reductions in both externalizing and internalizing behavior. In the early years, children explore the world around them, experiment with new concepts, and learn new words and the meaning of words, through singing, dancing, drawing, and dramatic play. The arts can instill creativity, a love of learning, and motivation to go to school.”