Does teaching children about art help them become better students overall?

CultureChild: Learning Through Art


A study by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum says it does.

Still curious about this connection from my conversation with Megan Lucas, I dug up an article that ran in The New York Times  following the release of the 2006 Solomon R. Guggenheim Learning Through Art study.  According to the article, the study found that students who participated in the Learning Through Art program performed better in six categories of literacy and critical thinking skills—including thorough description, hypothesizing and reasoning—than students who were not in the program.

Without wishing to oversimplify the issue, I can share from my own experience how one child I know increased his aptitude for learning through the use of art.  As a Learning Leaders volunteer, I tutor kids in reading at an under served public school.  Last year, through a trial-and-error process, I discovered a link between drawing and reading with this particular first-grade student.

It was clear that he had attention issues, but I was never briefed on his background.  He had difficulty sitting still for more than five minutes, and often walked out of our sessions. I knew that he loved to draw, and in an effort to keep him from abruptly ending our 40-minute sessions, I equipped him with a drawing pad and an array of newly sharpened colored pencils each week.  I quickly figured out that if I let him draw the characters and themes in a story that I read to him or let him draw pictures of some of the words that he read on flashcards, he stayed engaged for the 40 minutes.  He also took pride in talking about his pictures and using them to illustrate the stories that we read together and to create his own stories.  Through this exchange, we gradually spent more time reading and writing than drawing.

I’m taking a break from tutoring this semester; however, I plan to return to it in the fall, armed with some new ideas in my toolkit that I’m gleaning from this blog.  Art supplies will be essential in that toolkit.


  1. One of the best new art supplies may be the iPad. Lots of great creative outlets for kids. I also downloaded a paint app on my Android that my kids love.

    The Bamboo pen & draw is also an excellent way to bring freehand drawing to your PC. Of course, as you (and Pogue) said earlier, everything in moderation.

    Great post.

    – Tom

  2. Thank you for commenting. The Bamboo pen & draw is very cool. As more states drop cursive from their school curricula because they deem it less useful than keyboard skills, the Bamboo pen & draw offers a compelling way for parents to teach their tech-obsessed kids handwriting–not to mention drawing–as schools are also cutting their art programs.

  3. Great story, GMom. I am more and more convinced that art is a vital and necessary part of life, and learning. It's really a shame that it seems to be the first thing to go when budgets are in question.

  4. Thank you for reading and sharing. While education budgets and the state of public schools are overwhelming challenges for our country, of which I won’t attempt to tackle with my limited knowledge in the area, I do hope to be a resource for families interested in expanding their understanding of art and different cultures. I share your concern. I also see great learning opportunities in our communities, on the Internet and through the use of new technologies.

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