A review of 18 peer-reviewed studies about arts participation, published between 2000 and 2015, adds to the growing evidence about how arts participation helps young children – in particular those with autism – to develop strong social and emotional skills. The report was published by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in Washington DC, USA in December 2015.
Two of the key findings were:
• Music-based activities strengthen “pro-social behaviors” in young children, such as helping, sharing, caring and empathising with others.
• Arts activities help children to learn how to regulate their emotions.
The researchers note that relatively little is known about the effects of the arts on the social and emotional development of children with physical or neurological disabilities, with one exception: autism.
Several studies found that arts participation benefits young children with autism, and one study reported that young children (3-5-years-old) with autism had stronger “positive outcomes” (such as making and maintaining eye contact) when they participated in a 12-week music programme than when they took part in a more generic “play” programme of the same length.
National Endowment for the Arts: https://www.arts.gov/sites/default/files/arts-in-early-childhood-dec2015-rev.pdf
Minneapolis Post: https://www.minnpost.com/second-opinion/2015/12/arts-activities-help-childrens-social-and-emotional-development-review-resear