A fascinating article in The Washington Post highlights the benefits of arts integration for young children.
Inner City Inner Child programs are unique because we bring arts integration to children who do not have access to the arts, and we combine the arts with a literacy focus. In our Dancing With Books residency, teams of master teaching artists work directly with teachers and students; diving into a book called "Skip Through the Seasons". The children and teachers learn an original song based on the book, the children learn vocabulary related to the 4 seasons, as well as sign language, African drumming, and creative movement. The changes in the children are often dramatic. We love to share the story of 4 year old Robert. At Kids R Us Child Development Center in SE Washington, Robert is a child with a beatific smile and cascades of curls. Robert has special needs, including attention deficit, and is on the autism spectrum. He needs a care giver in the classroom at all times because he is prone to episodes of throwing himself against the wall, and extreme verbal disruption. By the end of the 10 week residency his teachers and the teaching artists were moved to tears because Robert could focus his attention on the music. The sound of the African drum had an almost hypnotic effect on him; as he modeled self-control and the ability to follow a steady beat. This is what exposure to the arts can do for children.