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Monthly Archives: August 2018

  • How Can the Arts Improve Academic Performance?

    As educators, we always want students to succeed and excel, and look for ways to encourage that growth.

    In recent years, researchers have studied many aspects of academic success. Educational research now draws connections between success in strictly academic subjects and the participation in arts programs. The body of research has grown immensely over the past years, showing a correlation between the two.

    A study published by Abigail Todhunter-Reid of the Department of Childhood Studies at Rutgers University stated, “arts education (minutes per week of art and music instruction) positively predicted academic achievement and growth in reading and mathematics from kindergarten to 5th-grade. Moreover, the positive associations increased in strength as students progressed to later grades.” She is not alone in these findings, and in fact, many studies find similar results.

    In music programs alone, students learn a variety of skills that help them in other areas. An article in the Washington Post on this states that music education can help to develop “a wide variety of different skills, including memory and spatial learning…language skills such as verbal memory, literacy and verbal intelligence.” This helps students to perform well in reading and mathematics courses, despite no direct instruction toward the subjects.

    Similarly, visual arts students learn to develop their spatial learning, organizational skills, visual memory, and emotional development. These students come to their other subjects more prepared, and able to see connections that other students may miss. The students also are allowed an opportunity to learn history through the study of other artists, which can aid them greatly in reading and composition courses. The study from Rutgers University found these effects grew more profound over time, with students who sustained the arts education improving more overall.

    Performing arts like dance and theatre show some of the most profound impacts, as students who learn to perform learn valuable skills that help in classrooms and beyond. Public speaking, verbal skills, memorization, emotional intelligence, literacy, and so on, are all developed by reading and rehearsing a play. Students who have the opportunity to perform often feel a sense of accomplishment, which can motivate them to achieve elsewhere as well. Additionally, this provides a chance for physical engagement which, especially at an elementary level, can be hugely beneficial to students’ focus in their classes.

    In total, allowing students the opportunity to develop as artists is better for them in many ways. Teachers can always endeavor to bring arts-based learning into a classroom, or simply allow for creative time. Parents can encourage artists to grow and explore, enroll students in extracurricular programs, or participate in arts with their children. Those who learn with the arts learn on many different levels. They will go far, and achieve higher with the arts behind them.

    At Daydream Education, we are committed to improving understanding for all students. We create educational posters that cover a wide variety of subjects, including music, drama, dance, math, and English. If you have any questions or would like to know more about us, get in touch today!

  • Back-to-School Checklist

    As summer draws to a close, teachers, students, and parents all get ready for the new school year. Some people love it, others dread it. For teachers this is a crucial time, as it sets the tone for the rest of the year.

    So what can you do to prepare? This checklist will help you to start the year in the right way.

     Set up the space

    Consider where students will do daily tasks like sharpen pencils, store supplies, and put their belongings. Make sure you’ve set the classroom up to have those tasks easy for the students to complete. If you want to have different types of space, it is easiest to do this before students arrive. So if you want a reading nook, an imagination station, or a meeting area, set it up early. This will help the students be familiar with classroom expectations for those spaces right away. Another way to prepare for the new school year is to display educational posters that improve students' understanding, and brighten the classroom with color.

     Be ready with behavior management systems

    Do you have a reward or punishment system in place? If so, you may need a way to track it either for yourself, or on a poster somewhere. Make sure you’ve thought through how to communicate or adjust the systems as needed. It may be best if you’re still thinking about what approach you’d like to take, to consider your audience. If you already know your students, that can help, but if not try to create a get-to-know-you activity for the first day, or talk to their previous teacher to get some insights. Clear expectations from day one can really help classroom management, and to have that you’ve got to plan ahead.

     Have a communication plan

    Know how you plan to communicate with parents. A good working relationship with parents can help students grow and learn much better. But not just the parents, have a plan for your communications with students. How they learn about assignments, rules, activities, and events from you can be facilitated in many different ways. See what fits your personality and your student body. Communication channels with your supervisor and administration team should be clear too.

     Be homework ready

    Have an idea of the assignments you want to give for each unit you’ll be teaching. A set way for students to collect, return, and keep track of those assignments should also be in place. If you plan to have them submit electronically, show them the system. If you’ll be doing physical hand-ins, make sure students have time to set their folder or binder up to manage their papers. It is also a good idea to have your grading system set up early too. This can help you focus on data analysis later in the year to get your students help with concepts they need earlier rather than later.

     Prepare tasks for all students

    It can really help to have a stockpile of tasks to hand to students who need something to do, so you don’t have to scramble in the moment. This can look different in different classrooms, but there are lots of students who might need something more than the normal assignment. Early finishers, those who race through assignments and get antsy while others work, can easily be diverted by a “Done Early?” set of activities. Similarly, you may want to have some more challenging assignments for the gifted students who may be bored with the normal work.

    On the other end of the spectrum, it can be beneficial to have easier assignments for students who are behind grade level, or who have cognitive challenges. English Language Learners may also require some assignments at lower reading levels, or reading tools that help them define new words. If you’ve got some of these set up before classes get going, it can help the students maximize their learning in your class.

    A good beginning can mean a good school year, and you should set yourself up for success. You may already have some of these things in place, but you can always add to them, strengthen weak points, or try new things! And if you’re building from scratch, you’ll have plenty of time to see what works and what doesn’t, to prepare better in the future.

    Have a great school year!

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