The Art of Compassion on ahschool.com

Three ways the arts can help students develop empathy

Education experts have long believed that studying the arts in school results in improved cognitive ability, brain development, and academic achievement. However, studying the arts has also been shown to increase a child's ability to feel empathy and compassion for others. Along with essential social skills like communication, collaboration, and cooperation, the ability to empathize with others is vital to your child's future success and growth as a person.

Here are three ways that studying the arts can help students develop empathy and benefit their emotional health.

1. The arts can help stop bullying in school

Bullying remains a huge problem in our schools. According to StopBullying.gov, around one in three students report that they have been bullied at school. Bullying can be done in person (verbal) and through social media (cyber). Young people who are perceived as "different" are often the most at risk for bullying.

Studying fine arts – music, dance, drama, art, and writing – is a great tool for understanding our differences and helping to build compassion for others. This can help reduce incidents of bullying, which causes enormous psychological and emotional damage.

2. The arts help children connect with their emotions

The arts open up a student to his or her own emotions, as well as the feelings of others. Simply being exposed to paintings can evoke emotions, according to ASCD.org. "The colors, the textures, and the subject matter can all influence the immediate emotional response of the viewer. The key to using this surge of emotion to develop empathy is to direct it from being indescribable to something concrete."

The arts connect us as human beings, helping us to understand that we are more alike than we are different. Studying the arts also allows a student to learn more about himself or herself.

3. The arts help children develop creative expression

Creative expression has been shown to have many benefits. One study by the National Creating Connection Initiative looked at the four core benefits of the arts: engagement, self-expression, personal growth, well-being, and happiness.

Participating in a drama class allows a student to step into other people's shoes and understand their process and their life. This is an important element of developing empathy.

The arts are a vital tool for helping students develop empathy and compassion for others, a quality that will benefit them throughout their lives. By studying the arts, a student can have higher academic achievement and become a better person.

As part of a well-rounded educational philosophy, American Heritage Schools has developed comprehensive fine arts programs in both the lower and upper school campuses. The upper school fine arts program teaches performance technique and hands-on application in all disciplines of study, while the lower school offers classes and enrichment programs in drama, dance, music, and 2D and 3D art.

American Heritage Schools is a leader in private education, academic excellence, and innovation. With two 40 acre campuses, one in Broward County and the other in Palm Beach County, Florida, we serve 4,600 students grades Pre-K 3 through 12. American Heritage Schools was recently named the #1 Private School for academic success with the highest number of National Merit Scholars of all private schools in the nation. For over 55 years, our mission of knowledge, integrity, and compassion through developing the full potential of each child to be an active, intelligent, creative, and contributing member of society. Contact an admissions director for more information or sign up for a campus tour.