Videos

The Arts as Therapy

October 2017

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Poverty, violence, and instability have been associated with chronically high levels of stress in kids. Now, a newly published study suggests that involving preschoolers from disadvantaged neighborhoods in music, dance, and visual arts programs may reduce their stress levels.

Six-year-old Max Brown has been playing violin for half of his young life.

“It makes me feel awesome,” detailed Max.

Max does this because it’s fun. His mom knows there could be more at stake. Eleanor Brown, PhD, is a child psychologist and heads the Early Childhood Cognition and Emotions Lab at West Chester University. Professor Brown studied 310 kids enrolled in the Kaleidoscope Preschool Arts Enrichment Program at the Settlement Music School in Philadelphia. Most of the students came from disadvantaged neighborhoods.

“They might be more likely to experience stressful family interactions that result from parents’ anxiety about trying to make ends meet,” explained Brown.

Social scientists measured the kids’ stress levels in a procedure that involved using a Q-tip-like swab under a child’s tongue to collect saliva, which researchers analyzed for the stress hormone cortisol.

“So children who might experience repeated or chronic exposure to stress might end up with chronic elevations in cortisol levels,” Brown told Ivanhoe.

Researchers collected samples at homeroom to establish a baseline; then, after music, dance, and visual arts classes on two different days. All together, they analyzed more than 7,000 samples.

Brown said, “Children showed lower cortisol levels after music, dance, and visual arts classes compared with homeroom.”

Professor Brown said the findings suggest that arts classes lower stress levels. For child educators, it may help validate what they have long suspected.

Tarrell Davis, director of early childhood education at the Settlement Music School, detailed, “The arts are giving so much more for our children. It’s helping level the playing field for our children coming in with a disadvantage.”

Professor Brown said parents tend to focus on learning letters and numbers when selecting a preschool. She recommended finding programs that also emphasize play and creative activities, like art, music, and dance.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising and Field Producer; Milvionne Chery, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Editor; Kirk Manson, Videographer.

Produced by Child Trends News Service in partnership with Ivanhoe Broadcast News and funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation. 


Spanish Translation

El Arte Como Terapia

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — La pobreza, violencia e inestabilidad han estado asociadas con altos niveles crónicos de estrés en niños. Ahora un nuevo estudio publicado sugiere que involucrar a niños de preescolar de zonas con menos recursos en programas de música y artes visuales pueden reducir sus niveles de estrés.

Max Brown, de 6 años, ha estado tocando el violín por la mitad de su corta vida. Max lo hace porque le gusta. Su madre sabe que puede haber más en riesgo. Eleanor Brown, PhD, es la directora del laboratorio de emociones y cognición infantil en la Universidad de West Chester. La Profesora Brown estudió a 310 niños registrados en un programa preescolar de artes en Philadelphia. La mayoría de los estudiantes venían de barrios de pocos recursos. Científicos sociales midieron el nivel de estrés de niños con algo parecido a un hisopo colectando la saliva debajo de la lengua. Investigadores la analizaron midiendo el nivel de cortisol, la hormona del estrés.

Investigadores colectaron pruebas de saliva al comienzo del día para establecer un punto de referencia. Y después de las clases de: música, baile o artes visuales durante dos días. Más de 7.000 muestras fueron analizadas. La Profesora Brown dice que estos resultados muestran que las clases de arte bajan el nivel de estrés. Para los maestros, esto puede validar lo que han sospechado por mucho tiempo.

La Profesora Brown dice que al seleccionar una escuela preescolar padres tienden a enfocarse en que sus niños aprendan letras y números. Ella recomienda que encuentren programas que también se enfoquen en juegos y actividades creativas como arte, música y baile. Estos descubrimientos fueron recientemente publicados en la revista de Desarrollo Infantil. Fondos fueron proporcionados por la Asociación Nacional de Educación.

Los contribuyentes a este reportaje incluyen: Cyndy McGrath, Supervisora y Productora de Campo; Milvionne Chery, Productora Assistente; Roque Correa, Editor; Kirk Manson, Camarografo.

Producido por Child Trends News Service en asocio con Ivanhoe Broadcast News y auspiciado por una beca de la National Science Foundation.