Creating art is a valuable learning process. Artistic exploration and expression enhance and develop intellectual, social and physical skills.
When children express themselves through words, pictures, music, photography and other art forms, they grow intellectually. The National PTA Reflections program helps parents encourage and recognize the continuous self-discovery process of their children.
With art, children learn to analyze their thoughts, feelings and ideas; look at objects, people and experiences in a fresh and exciting way; and develop curiosity for the ideas and works of others.
There are four skills students demonstrate and enhance through their artwork in the Reflections program:
- Critical Thinking—Students draw upon many skills and explore the creative process while reflecting on the annual Reflections’ theme. Oftentimes, students solve problems to real-world global issues or identify opportunities and strategies that really work.
- Communication—Students hone their writing and communication skills by articulating their thoughts and ideas in an artist statement that is shared with their peers and the greater school community. Reflections will give students a voice (using art) to inform, persuade, motivate and inspire others.
- Collaboration—Families and classrooms have fun discussing the annual theme and exploring new art-making techniques. A student choreographer or film director will cultivate leadership skills while working with their peers, and a Reflections Art Night will offer time and space for the whole family. Student leadership and ownership are key for a successful Reflections submission.
- Creativity—Students find themselves at the epicenter of their imagination. Reflections artwork is a product of mastering the creative process. Students must brainstorm multiple ideas and even combinations of them by elaborating, refining, analyzing and evaluating. The process allows students to think outside the box and create a tangible, useful work of art that inspires others to be engaged in their own learning.
It’s programs like PTA Reflections that allow students to cultivate and curate creative skills that give them an academic advantage.
Students who participate in arts programs like Reflections show the greatest relative improvement in academic achievement, especially for those in underserved communities. Arts education has the ability to level the playing field because it provides a safe learning environment where students take risks, explore ideas and express their individuality. Students also learn to support their peers in a positive way by breaking down communication barriers—probably because the arts are a universal language (ArtsEdSearch.org).
Reflections is designed to enhance arts education. It provides opportunities for students to express themselves and to receive positive recognition for their artistic efforts. Family members, school personnel and the community all play a critical role in fostering a positive learning environment for children. Supporting a Reflections program in your community is one way adults can help maintain that environment.
I encourage you to support student learning through the arts so that today’s Reflections artists can find their voice and continue to explore their world in creative ways.
Learn more and get started at PTA.org/Reflections.
Ethan Clark is the Manager of Education and Arts Initiatives at National PTA.