As an art teacher, you know the benefits of creating art, and you’ve seen its ability to engage students, help them de-stress, and build new skills time and again. But the incredible impact your work is having may not be something you think about as you go through your busy day. Give yourself a boost by taking some time to reflect on the effects your art lessons have on your students.
Start by reading what teachers from around the country said when we asked them to share some examples of why art education is important in their schools. Then think about the successes you’ve seen in your own classes and share them with students, parents, and your administration to reinforce why art education is important to students’ growth.
1. Art supports students’ mental health
- I hear my students talking about how much they are able to release their stress by doing art in my room. They have a lot on them these days and this is their safe zone to just be who they are. –Carla N.
- I’ve been focusing more and more on projects incorporating SEL since the pandemic. My recent first-days project was titled “Hope For, Wish For, Dream For” and included a brief artist statement explaining the symbolism of their work. –Gretchen W.
- With all the disruption and uncertainty that the pandemic has heaped upon us, our artists (students) always have their art to delve into — whether at home or in the studio (classroom). Artmaking is like a friend and consoler, always there to help one re-center and put aside disconcerting thoughts and feelings. –E. Francis K.
- I have seen my art students relax and engage in joy through their creativity in the arts! Art is more important than ever for students’ mental health, as the COVID pandemic has added a huge impact on all of them. Additionally, they have learned cultural appreciation through the arts by studying artists from all over the world! –Bridget H.
- In addition to skill-building and self-expression, the art class is a place for students to recharge their batteries in a safe and supportive community, where they feel known and welcomed. –Julie T.
- I have a student who has had big shifts in their home life. They were really struggling in the gen ed subjects. However, when they come to art, they are calm and engaged. I’m grateful to have a space for that kid! –Kendall S.
- I have seen art help my students gain confidence and believe in themselves. The happiness and pride they exude when they complete something they didn’t think they were capable of is inspiring. –@running_with_scissors_art
- My art room is a place for many students to be able to breathe, relax, and take care of themselves. Students feel accepted and connect with others they may not interact with in other environments. –@nighthawkhsart
- Students have told me that the art room and making art is calming for them. –@purplechickenartroom
- It’s been a therapeutic tool for many of our kids to work through anger, frustration, fear, etc., and to creatively express themselves. It helps them to cope and persevere! –Fawn L.
- Art has brought the walls down for my students: fourth- and fifth-graders collaborated on creating a continuous-line labyrinth in multiple media and second- and third-graders made painted paper collage portraits based on Todd Parr’s book “It’s Okay to Be Different.” All huge successes in bringing back confidence and skills, too! –Shaughn B.
- Every day, students in my high school art classroom are experiencing real challenges and experiences that are well beyond their years. In our daily SEL-theme sketchbook prompts, I see them work out emotional issues that allow them to process. –Jessamyn B.
- My students always enjoy unwinding and having some social time while creating art. Many students say it is their escape. –@grimsleyhsart
- Art has given my students in Florida an excellent way to cope during the pandemic, and more recently, a way to create during times without power or electricity after Hurricane Ian. –Katy C.
- My seventh- and eighth-grade art students are always excited to come to the art room, many say it is their favorite class of the day. They know we are an art family and all are accepted. They get ideas and encouragement from others while working on their artwork. We use the elements of art and principles of design daily, and I love hearing the students talk “art talk” when they are discussing their work with each other. –Robyn H.
- Some students have a difficult time in their other classes but come into art to slow down and find themselves. I know I am doing something right when they ask for more days like the last one we had. –Jacqueline T.
2. Art builds skills and creative expression
- Students were so surprised and empowered when they learned how to create houses using two-point perspective — they thought they could not draw like that! –Tandy D.
- The latest unit we’re working on is 3D objects. Students sometimes struggle to create in the third dimension of depth. They create a great animal, piece of fruit, person, character, etc., but it is flat as a pancake. I really wanted to teach problem-solving techniques by using Model Magic® or air dry clay to build something that can stand on its own and has depth. Finally, about 99% of them got it — they are so proud of their creations! –April C.
- My students were very involved in a dreamscape artwork that we did as both a regular classroom project and a possible contest entry for a local scholarship for college. They focused on keeping a dream log for several days and then illustrated a dream and added an element of juxtaposition inspired by surrealism. They did this project virtually primarily, but stayed involved and produced detailed thumbnail sketches and final results. –Michelle O.
- My middle school kiddos love to collaborate, and art projects are perfect for working together! This leads to problem-solving, cooperation, sharing, supporting, socializing, learning, communicating, and so much more! Twenty-first-century skills on top of art skills — love it! –Pam H.
- My students this year have been trying so many different techniques. They have been mixing mediums and trying different types of papers, from different weights to type, such as watercolor or charcoal. The impact of them experimenting with all types of art is inspiring, and they are making some incredible original pieces. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for all these artists. –Lori B.
- Yesterday, we did a gallery walk to critique the students’ finished projects. It was great to hear all the feedback the students were giving each other. This class is a mix of high school grade levels, academic, and artistic skill levels. All the students were validated for the success of their work. It was awesome watching and listening to the interaction. –Heidi L.
- In my classroom, students understand that they use their brain in different ways as they navigate ideation, planning, revising, and reflecting when producing their art. They have discovered that the more information and experiences they have, the more equipped they are to make decisions and choices about their art. –Michelle K.
- I have tried to create collaborative projects that integrate knowledge from other subject areas. When my kindergarten classes learned about illuminated manuscripts, they were excited to see the use of uppercase letters. They were able to show their knowledge in my class because they knew about upper and lowercase letters. They were also amazed that when these manuscripts were created, there were no Amazon or bookstores. Every book had to be written by hand and in ink! –Carey G.
- Creating sketchbooks this year for grades 1–4 has really helped the students concentrate and have something that is just theirs to express themselves. I also feel that art class has been more exciting this year as students have access to all the materials! –@jcristantiello
3. Art engages students in learning
- I had a first-grader who hasn’t seemed super into the projects yet say how art is their favorite class. Turns out I was misreading their quiet. –Sam D.
- Some ways I’ve seen art impact my students so far this year is through their ability to problem-solve, communicate with their peers, and their excitement to learn and try new things! –Hannah M.
- Art has gotten my students to put down their phones and truly engage with the creation process. Even in those brief moments, you can see the growth and connection, and that’s what art is all about. –Kimberly T.
- My students have been excited that I have been able to start having after-school art club again. Now they can have extra art during the week. The students are also happy to be able to spend this creative time with students from other homerooms and grade levels. To see the students engaging in the creative process in mixed-age levels in art club is pure joy. Everyone has a voice in art club. –Laura D.
- I am seeing my third-grade students use their sketchbooks to draw outside of art class. This is exciting to me! –@theheartofteachingart
- My middle school kids can be tough to teach, but when they can get their hands on projects and build or create they are constantly engaged! –Laura C
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4. Art promotes self-expression
- Art has given my middle school students a way to express themselves and help build their self-esteem. Some of the quietest students really shine when they can show their feelings through art. Art class is also a great stress reliever for students who struggle to stay focused or remain in their seats. –Pam G.B.
- My students use art as a means to relax and express themselves. We learn to use all types of mediums. They have all grown in their ability levels. They feel so proud when they make something that makes them happy. –Diane W.R.
- This year I am working on building a consistent and supportive classroom culture. My students are beginning to take more risks and make more unique, personal work as we communicate in the safe space of our shared studio. –@kanakpani
- I have noticed that through my art classes my students have been able to express themselves and discover more about who they are as an individual. I stress the importance of social-emotional learning in my class, and I have noticed that these art lessons are helping my students realize their potential and let them be comfortable in an environment where they feel safe to express themselves at their fullest potential. –Amanda C.
- The art studio is a place for calm bodies and minds so our ideas can grow. This year, I am seeing kids be more willing to explore and not have a perfect result. –@azdrale
5. Art helps students build relationships and make connections
- I’ve had students tell me the only reason they come to school is because of art. –Kim M.W.
- A student came up to me the other day saying they want to be an artist like me when they grow up. I told them anyone at any age can be an artist! –Pamela D.S.
- I have several students that don’t seem to fit in, but in art class, they are wonderful students. I love seeing them excel in art, especially when I know they have shortcomings in other classes. –Sonya H.C.
- I have seen my students become risk-takers. They are discovering new, unexpected uses for media and I am really enjoying building relationships and rapport through art-making. –@cmcmickleart
- [For] my students who severely struggle in the gen ed classroom, the art room is their safe haven and where they are always successful. –@yellowcrayon89
- Art helps open the gate to all types of learning for my students. They love to come and tell me when they have seen something outside of school that we learned in art. –Suzanne H.
- One of my proudest teaching moments came during my adaptive art class, when one of my nonverbal students danced with the popsicle stick Woody dolls we made in class while humming to “You Got a Friend in Me.” –Christopher H.
- At one of my schools, we have a program for students who have emotional disabilities and behaviors that keep them from being able to be fully immersed in the classroom. Yet through visiting their classroom and working with these students, I’ve found that the majority of those students enjoy and benefit from art making. For some, it is the only thing they excel at or can accomplish without shutting down. I really enjoy working with these students who need art so much! –@artwithmrsf
Why is art education important to your school community?
With so much focus on core academics, art class can sometimes be the unsung hero in a child’s school day. Take a few minutes during class or at the end of each week to write down your observations about how you see art helping to support and even transform students’ lives.
Then, make sure you find ways to share these observations with others in your community, including colleagues, students, parents, your principal, and even community members. This may be through newsletters, faculty meetings, parent nights, or even human interest stories with your local paper. For instance, you could team up with a colleague to have students write essays about how they feel art benefits them and then run their essays in the school newspaper or hang student quotes about art in your hallways — the possibilities are endless.
Amazing things are happening in your art room every day — now’s the time to celebrate those wins!