August 10, 2015

Learning Through the Arts with the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading

At a recent meeting, it was exciting to hear about the commitment and progress that Sarasota and Manatee counties are making through the Suncoast Campaign for Grade Level Reading.

While excellent strategies were mentioned, there was a notable omission – experiences in the ARTS! The arts are texts for learning – just like books. Children are born artists, dancers, and storytellers — and are naturally creative. We need to expand this inherent ability.

Research shows that early engagement in singing, art, storytelling and movement has even more significance because these experiences help create unique brain connections that have long-term impact.  Cognitive skills, reasoning ability, problem solving, creativity and inventiveness all improve when children, discuss, create and participate in the arts.

With the outstanding year-round programs of our strong arts organizations and the knowledge and skills of our teaching artists, Sarasota is uniquely positioned to demonstrate the powerful way the arts can influence reading.

Specific arts learning can address the three biggest barriers to reading success:

School readiness – appropriate arts experiences increase vocabulary and motor skills

Chronic absence – the arts motivate students to come to school

Summer learning loss  – targeting arts learning experiences in community/school programs

When asked about the role of the arts in the campaign, Ron Fairchild, president and CEO of the Smarter Learning Group, which leads the community solutions aspect of the national Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, agreed that the “arts are an incredible asset in engaging young people and getting them excited about literacy.”

He is interested in seeing how the arts can work to integrate learning. is a platform for these hands-on experiences offered in Sarasota County and Any Given Child has the expertise in arts integration.

Sarasota County can be a pacesetter in putting the arts into reading for our teachers, parents, schools and – especially – our students!

photo credit: Macro of sharpened colored pencils aranged in a circle via photopin (license)

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