Cookies, Concerts—and Better Grades: Reasons to Love the Arts This Holiday Season & Beyond

By: Becky Post

November and December have to be the most creative months of the year. The arts come alive through so many mediums during the holidays: concerts, recitals, craft fairs, baking, and decorating seem to occupy much of our time.

In her book, Keeping The Arts Alive: Creating and Sustaining Youth Programs that Matter, author Kristin Rapp reminds us that, “the arts are what bring life to life,” and they need to be cultivated and appreciated all year long.

Why is that? Research shows that young people who participate in some kind of artistic activity for at least three hours a week for a whole year are

  • Four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement
  • Three times more likely to be elected to class office
  • Three times more likely to win an award for school attendance
  • Two times more likely to perform community service

In other words, participating in the arts helps young people feel motivated and engaged in their schools and communities.

So, what can you do? Everyone can be an advocate for the arts! Here are a few ways you and your family can show your support:

  • Speak up at parent-teacher-student meetings about successful arts-related endeavors.
  • Attend school board or community council meetings and voice your opposition to arts cuts.
  • Support your child's interest in arts by going to his or her events. More tips for getting your child excited about the arts >>
  • Encourage funding for arts as part of core curriculum in your child's school.
  • Lobby elected official to vote in ways that support arts.
  • Volunteer to teach your artistic skills at a school, after-school program, or community class.
  • Encourage kids to be active creators of media, rather than passive consumers.
  • Cheer on talented local artists and share their work with others.

When January rolls around, the holiday decorations will be stowed away and the cookies will be eaten, but, as Ms. Rapp writes, the arts will still "elevate learning and life."

Rebecca Post is the director of content development at Search Institute. She has worked as a book editor for most of her career. She and her husband are successfully surviving the empty nest, now that their only child is in college.


Kristin Rapp, Keeping The Arts Alive: Creating and Sustaining Youth Programs that Matter (Minneapolis: Search Institute Press, 2012).

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