Education isn’t just about feeding your brain. Art and Music feed the heart and soul.

Our brain is a muscle. Learning to play a musical instrument and expressing creativity through art is the ultimate exercise for our children’s developing brain. Two new studies from the Brain and Creativity Institute at USC show that as little as two years of music instruction has multiple benefits. Music training can change both the structure of the brain’s white matter, which carries signals through the brain and gray matter, which contains most of the brain’s neurons that are active in processing information. Music instruction also boosts engagement of brain networks that are responsible for decision making and the ability to focus attention and inhibit impulses. (doesn’t that sound so very technical!)

Learning to create and appreciate visual aesthetics (art) may be more important than ever to the development of their brains.

Research indicates that fine arts education has “overwhelming benefits, especially in the formative years” of children, critically impacting brain development. (Wow!)

Artistic experiences impact brain development, especially the prefrontal cortex – the area of the brain responsible for higher-order thinking and motor skills. A visual of these impacts is mapped out and currently displayed at the Minnesota Museum. (the brain is amazing!)

Students who receive an education in the arts tend to have higher skills in forming constructive criticisms, comparisons, and analyzing alternative viewpoints; develop better brain structures in memory, learning and attention; develop fine motor skills; and demonstrate better language development.

Cognitive neuroscience has discovered that fine arts education impacts emotional and social development in children and adults.

“Engagement with the arts gives you ways to think about problems as multifaceted, and as being open-ended with no single correct answer.”MARY HELEN IMMORDINO-YANG

With all the scientific proof of the benefits of art and music (and the fact that its fun!) we have always tried to add a little of both into our homeschool world. We have put our children in art classes, music lessons, visited art museums, and enjoyed the ballet and concerts. My kids have grown up listening to Mozart while reading or working on math, enjoyed local outside concerts, and sing along to worship music every time we drive in the van.

This school year (during our cold winter months) I decided to do a small art/music unit with our younger children. I am using the Usborne Art Treasury Book. It’s so simple to use with little tid bits about each artist and a small art project to complete for each artist. Our art lessons go very well with our world geography study this year. Another great resource (found at the local library) is Vincent’s Starry Night and Other Stories…A Children’s History of Art.

With a large family, I needed to keep things simple. I chose to do our art unit each Wednesday…to break up our week. We are all learning so much in just one afternoon a week.

We traveled to Russia and read about Kandinsky and his wonderful colorful contrasts. We loved the book,”The Noisy Paint Box” and created our own bold-colored squares with concentric circles…all while listening to Tchaikowsky. We even enjoyed watching the Russian ballet (you gotta love Youtube!)

Then off to Holland as learned all about Vincent VanGogh and The Starry Night. We made our own swirly landscape while listening to Beethoven, Mozart, and Bach. We gathered around the warm fire with a cup of tea and read, “Vincent Can’t Sleep.” We concluded by watching Heidi.

Our tour of Europe continued into France and Italy where we tasted French pastries, learned about the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Eiffel Tower while listening to Chopin. We studied the beautiful Water Lilies by Monet and the amazing gift that Leonardo da Vinci possessed. After reading about the beautiful Sistine Chapel ceiling (and watching a short video on Youtube) the kids were inspired to lay on the floor and paint upside down. The night ended with hot chocolate (French treat) while watching Madeline. Yes, it was a great way to remember our artist!

Next week we will travel to Spain and learn all about Picasso and his Clown Collage…all while eating some yummy Spanish food, listening to Spanish guitar music and watching the traditional Running of the Bulls.

Sometimes music and art are the only medicine the heart and soul need.

Take a fun break from your regular school schedule and enjoy learning some #music and #art. Visit an art gallery, play some Mozart, and allow the creative juices to flow. You don’t have to be a musician or an artist…just have fun with your kids!

What type of art and music activities and lessons do you do with your children? Let me know in the comment section below!

Leave a Reply