Increasing Math Achievement in Early Childhood Through Arts Education

The arts is more than just fun and games. It is an important learning tool as well. Children Arts Education

On Thursday, the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts, an Invest In US partner, and the American Institute for Research (AIR), released a study touting arts education as a promising approach to improve early learning. Specifically, the study found that that arts-integrated teaching methods in early childhood education can increase students’ math achievement by providing the equivalent of more than a month of additional learning.

Wolf Trap’s Early STEM/ARTS program combines content and skills from the arts, such as singing, dancing, and storytelling, with core subjects such as math and literacy in early childhood education classrooms.  Through a randomized controlled experiment, the AIR study examined Wolf Trap’s arts-integrated teaching methods against a standard math assessment for young children. In the end, Wolf Trap students outperformed peers in the control schools.

Key research findings show:

  • Wolf Trap’s Early STEM/Arts program had a statistically significant, positive impact on students’ math achievement.
  • Students in the classrooms of teachers trained in the Early STEM/Arts program gained the equivalent of more than a month of additional learning in math.
  • Wolf Trap’s Early STEM/Arts program demonstrated features of effective, high-quality professional development.

“We have seen through decades of practice and research that integrating the arts into core subjects helps young students learn better,” said Arvind Manocha, president and CEO of Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts. “This new analysis from AIR shows that incorporating music, movement, drama, and puppetry into early childhood education results in significant learning increases in mathematics – something that has been documented to be a key factor in improving life outcomes for young children. The arts are a powerful learning tool.”

While a number of studies show links between arts-integration and positive student outcomes, this study is unique in that it examined early childhood arts-integration in particular. The analysis complements initial results from a study released in 2015, which revealed a positive impact on math skills for students in the classrooms of teachers who participated in Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts.

Download and read the full report here.