Art plays an Invaluable Role in Special Education

Almost every educational institution includes art and craft classes as part of their co-curricular activities. These classes provide students the opportunity to explore their artistic streak and at the same time learn something new and having a good time. Nowadays, every educational institution looks out for including innovative procedures to transform learning and education into a worthwhile experience. What better option can be than to include art and craft into the regular curriculum?

In special education, data and goals are mostly preferred, but many teachers, therapists, and organizations are of the opinion that some students learn most effectively through arts. For example, students can learn about social and cognitive skills through drama classes. Similarly, science, mathematics, and other such subjects can be learned easily through drawing, painting, and similar activities. Arts can also assist in developing skills and knowledge for students in special education and helps to retain memory for long. As per research, engaging in drawing and painting increases student’s achievement in various subjects and enhances their social and adaptive skills. This is because combining academic content with color-coding, movement, rhythm, texture, and so on, improves memory and cognition. Moreover, medical studies have found that participation in creative arts reduces stress, which, in turn, gives boost to the learning ability.

Music as an art form also has therapeutic advantages for students in special education, especially those with autism. Scientists state that music supports development in sensory-motor integration, speech, and social skills. As such, music therapy can be instrumental in accomplishing goals related to emotional processing, memory, speech, social skills, and so on.

Incorporating Arts into Self-Contained Classrooms

Self-contained classrooms can also make time for arts, music, and movement sessions. Institutions can employ music therapists on staff or under contract to assist students in special education. Accordingly, they can arrange classroom sessions wherein the therapist provides tailor-made lessons to the students’ needs and goals. Conducting such sessions will create more room for positive response and communication.

Enhancing Communication by Transcending Boundaries

Organizing art classes provides scope for increased interactions between teachers and students. Moreover, it develops a sense of mutual respect and understanding among the students. As a result, students start communicating with other special education students in their class. They try to understand their needs and requirements, their strengths and weaknesses, and eventually work together as a team. It also opens the window of creativity and collaboration between general and special education students.

Nurturing the Creative Side

Art classes are not only beneficial for special students, but it also gives wings to one’s imagination. Students can explore their imagination through drawings and paintings and learn many new things by interacting with each other. Colorful pictures and images help special education students to get a better understanding of the subject matter and make the classroom session educative and engaging.

Boosting Confidence and Understanding

Incorporating art in the curriculum helps in building confidence in special education students and develops a sense of understanding in the rest of the class. Students can express their opinions through their drawings and paintings, which they may usually find difficult to express. This can also provide teachers the opportunity to assess how these special students are performing in the class, and what other steps they can take to make their educational experience better.

Teachers can also introduce a critique process at the end of each project. This will provide students scope to stand in front of the classroom and talk about their artwork and thought process behind it. Feedback of their peers will act as a constructive pillar for all the students and will open doors for healthy discussions in the future. Initially, students may feel a bit nervous, but with time, interaction with their classmates, and the teachers’ support, they will be able to build their self-confidence and sense of community within the classroom. It would also motivate them to analyze what went well and what changes they can bring around in their craft. Additionally, it improves students’ behavior in the classroom, and their control over the process of creating art.

Art as a Means of Inclusion

Art, music, drama classes, and so on are based on creative expression, rather than on test scores. Acordingly, they act as first choice for inclusion. Teachers can encourage students with special needs to assist them with organizational duties, just like all other students. This will help them to work alongside with other students in the class and explore creativity. As creativity in classrooms transcends boundaries, students have the opportunity to appreciate and enjoy each other’s work.

Art and craft unleashes the creative side of an individual. It provides every student the equal opportunity to showcase their skills. Hence, they feel free to express themselves and interact freely with their classmates. This acts as a doorway to their development and nurturing their artistic talent.

— Ananda Kamal Das

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