Piqua Arts Council, impact of art on children


PIQUA — Piqua Arts Council is committed to providing experiences in the arts to all ages. The arts are sometimes imagined to be “something extra” that people do exclusively for fun. In fact, though, they are crucial to human development as individuals strive to be productive members of society and to fulfill their own potential. PAC is committed to helping everyone, including children, to do just that.

Why worry about children and the arts? Studies have shown that the arts are crucial to a child’s development. Young children develop motor skills by holding a paintbrush, coloring with crayons and using scissors. They expand their vocabulary by learning to identify shapes and colors and increase verbal skills by describing their art to others. In addition, because art uses many of the senses, children’s brains expand as their creativity is nurtured. Studies of older children show that engagement with the arts can boost academic growth while decreasing attendance and discipline problems. Wiley H. Bates Middle School in Annapolis, Md. began to integrate the arts into their entire curriculum in 2009. Since that time, the school has seen a 23 percent drop in the average number of referrals and suspensions per student, while the percentage of students proficient or advanced in math has grown four times more than the state’s over the same period, and five times more in reading.

As less and less funding is allotted for arts education in public schools, PAC is undermining its own efforts to educate children effectively! Because of studies like these, Piqua Arts Council helps school students to be exposed to the arts as much as possible. The largest arts program sponsored by PAC is Creative Classrooms, where Piqua City School and Piqua Catholic School students in Kindergarten through fifth grade experience high-quality performing arts performances either in-school or through field trips. During 2022, in-school performances were provided by the Dayton Children’s Traveling Opera, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company and a Dayton Philharmonic Brass Quintet. Each school also took a field trip to the Victoria Theatre where they enjoyed “School House Rock,” a performance that included lessons on Civics and English grammar. The arts can make it fun to learn!

For high school students, PAC hosts the West Central Regional Finals for “Poetry Out Loud,” a competition sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Each participating student chooses two poems from a list provided by the NEA, memorizes them, and then recites them. The winner from each school then moves on to the West Central Regional Finals which was held this year at Edison State Community College. This competition exposes students to a variety of poetry from William Shakespeare to Emily Dickinson, from William Blake to James Baldwin. It encourages performance as well as memorization, and exposes students to a wide range of great poetry. This year, Xenia High School senior Hiba Loukassi won the West Central Regional competition of Poetry Out Loud, as well as the state finals, allowing her to advance to the national competition in Washington, D.C.

But what of the arts outside the classroom? New this year is a special PAC event designed just for children, called Art 4 Everyone: 4 Kids. This event, still in the planning process, is scheduled for late summer when family vacations are over and parents are looking for something to engage their children. It will offer hands-on artistic involvement to young people of all experience levels in Kindergarten through high school. Participants will be grouped by age and interest. Watch for more details as they become available, and take advantage of arts opportunities for your children. They are far more important than you ever imagined!

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