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Literature Review - Areas of Academia; Fine Arts Instruction, Elementary Education; Impact of Art Instruction

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Abstract

Studies have shown that fine arts instruction at the elementary level has a positive influence on the way students learn to read, write and perform mathematically. Art activates children's senses in unrestricted play and contributes to the development of cognitive, social, emotional and sensory-motor skills. The instruction of fine arts is a challenging learning experience and one of the best ways in which to include various approaches to learning.

Keywords: Areas of Academia; Fine Arts Instruction, Elementary Education; Impact of Art Instruction

Discussion of Key Words

Areas of Academia

This term refers to the core areas of reading, language arts, mathematics, science and social studies taught at the elementary school level to include grades kindergarten through fifth grade.

Fine Arts Instruction

This term refers to the non-core "specials areas" offered to students at the elementary school level and taught by certified specialists. These areas include creative art, especially visual art, whose production is recognized for the imaginative and/or intellectual contact they invoke in each individual student.

Elementary Education

This term refers to the subjects of language arts (reading), writing and mathematics which are taught at the elementary school level and where appreciation of the instruction of fine arts programs is relevant. Elementary education is the first stage of a child's mandatory education and encompasses kindergarten through fifth grades.

Impact of Fine Arts Instruction

This term refers to the influence of the instruction of fine arts on the core areas of academia at the elementary school level.

Introduction

The main purpose of this literature review is to explain in what ways fine arts influence the academic progress of elementary level school children in other areas of academia. The research question addressed in this review is "How does fine arts instruction influence the academic progress of children at the elementary level?" Since fine arts are not considered "core" subjects, they are the first areas to be affected by school budget cuts across the United States. It is important to realize and emphasize the significance of the arts as they aid in teaching the core subjects of language arts, writing and performing well mathematically.

Thematic Review of Literature

Fine Arts Instruction

Art activates children's senses in unrestricted play and contributes to the development of cognitive, social, emotional and sensory-motor skills. Art instruction is a challenging learning experience and one of the best ways in which to include various approaches to learning. Simply put, the fine arts are fun for children while allowing them to express their thoughts and feelings in a non-verbal manner. The arts also teach children vital skills for living and development of their minds, while increasing their self-esteem and promoting problem-solving skills (http://www.stuartschool.org/arts/arts_in_preschool_and_jk/index.aspx).

Even though fine arts area not considered to be "core" subjects, and the importance of the instruction of the arts has "lost ground" in recent years, it has become imperative to emphasize the significance of the arts in learning to read, write and to perform well mathematically, as well as learning in other subjects. Supporters have been anxious to demonstrate that instruction in fine arts lends to the advancement of general education in students at the kindergarten level through the 12th grade level with particular emphasis placed on the development of higher order thinking skills. (Burton, Abeles & Horowitz, 2000).

Impact of Fine Arts Instruction

Symbolic representation of the environment through art is seen as a communication in which visual statements clarify and stimulate ideas. Studies have shown that children love art for the imaginative enjoyment that they get from the use of materials. It has also been suggested that fine arts instruction is effective in helping children to focus upon the importance of reaching educational goals in reading, classroom behavior, and the quality of learning (Cohen, 1984).

In a 2002 study conducted by Ball and Lei involving the study of yard art in an upstate New York town, it was revealed that a visual approach to art education focusing on issues regarding place was established. The results of this study suggested that the exploration of place indicates the need to locate an incorporate various kinds of art into fine arts education (Ball & Lei, 2002). In another study conducted by Brewer (2002) which purpose was to compare and contrast central and influential instruction in art education. The study revealed that among the fifth-grade groups that were examined, an average of 85% of students enjoyed art while not in school (Brewer, 2002).

In a study conducted by Brieger, Kendall-Dudley and Sarmiento (1977), a fine arts program was created for a targeted group of at-risk second and third grade bilingual students who also had learning and behavior disorders in an at-risk elementary school in the Midwest. Based on the evaluation methods developed by the researchers, student self-assessments, and teacher observations, it was concluded that the participating students increased their levels of appropriate behaviors

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