During a typical school day at the Learning Center charter school, students can be found taking photos, sculpting paper mache, singing a catchy tune, or planting flowers next to an art installation on the school grounds. That is because art is an important component of the school’s teaching philosophy that takes an E-STEAM approach.
E-STEAM stands for entrepreneurship, science, technology, engineering, arts, agriculture and math. Arts at the school include visual, musical, performance, dance, and culinary arts.
Lynn Prado teaches art weekly to kindergarten through sixth grade students and offers it as an elective to students in 7th – 9th grade each week.
“Art encourages fine motor skills, neural development, and problem-solving abilities can be used effectively to teach and understand other key subjects such as reading, writing, math, and science,” said Prado. In light of the challenges students have faced the past several years during the pandemic, Prado said, “I have found that art also gives the students an outlet for expressing themselves. It allows children to process their world and to deal with sometimes scary emotions in a safe way.”
Each week Prado creates lessons that focus on the fine arts and the visual art-making process. She incorporates fundamental lessons on line, shape, form, color, space, texture, and value. She encourages artistic expression and focuses on the process rather than the end product.
Head of school, Ryan Bender, reiterated the importance of art in the daily curriculum and said, “Integrating art into science, math, history and language arts helps students understand the interconnectedness of everything they learn and plays a key role in the development of reading, imagination, and creativity.”
Bender added that art instruction helps with the development of motor, language, and social skills. Plus, experiences with art boosts critical thinking and teaches students how to carefully observe and analyze the world.