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Your fourth grader and the arts

In a rich art program, your child will learn about visual arts, music, theater and dance.

By Miriam Myers , GreatSchools Staff

In your child's classroom

If the school has a rich art program, your child will have opportunities to create, appreciate, and learn the history of the visual and performing arts. He will be encouraged to relate them to other subjects. Your child may go on a field trip to a concert, dance performance, play, or art museum to extend classroom learning.

Research has linked arts education to overall academic achievement and social development. Paul Bakeman, our teacher consultant and award-winning music teacher, adds: "Students who are exposed to a consistent, quality arts education develop skills that will enhance their ability to learn throughout their whole lives."

The arts may not be taught as a separate subject in some schools, but most states require that they be included in the curriculum. Most states have National Standards for Arts Education.

Nancy Roucher, our educational consultant and arts specialist, notes that arts education, like math, builds each year on skills and concepts taught the year before: "The ideal is to have sequential arts education taught by certified qualified specialists and integrated with other subject areas."

Visual arts

In fourth grade, students study the visual arts — painting, ceramics, sculpture and photography — from different cultures and time periods, learning about famous artists, styles, and cultures. Your child studies and creates art, including landscapes, portraits, sculptures, and collages. He explores various art materials such as pastels, clay, papier-mâché, and watercolors. He learns the elements and principles of art such as color, line, shape, texture, and space.

Your fourth grader learns different skills and techniques to create art. He may make a pinch or coil pot while studying Native American art. He may look at a landscape painting and create his own with a horizon line. He experiments with mixing and blending colors, perhaps by using oil pastels to make a still life. He may try Mexican bark painting or make a Chinese scroll, activities that connect to the study of these parts of the world.

Your child learns about different art movements and artists. He may study the work of Paul Klee and use different shapes and colors to make his own abstract portrait. He can discuss the subject matter and symbols in works of art.

Comments from readers

"We are looking to relocate to a new state, our 4th grader is driving this change, she is very gifted in both academics and art and we are afraid she is not getting the best oportunities in our current system and we want to see her excel and continue to grow. Where can I find a listing of schools that fit these options? "
"Interesting blog!!"
"While studying the arts can be an important part of a child's education, unfortunately, my grandchildren's elementary school is so busy focusing on the arts, multiculturalism, and frequent field trips, that the students' academic achievement is suffering. This particular school was rated by Great Schools at a 3 (or 'poor') out of a possible 10. My grandchildren are struggling, particularly in math, but isn't it wonderful that at least they have learned 'peaceful dance moves'! "