A new study has revealed that children in Ireland who participate in artistic or cultural activities such as drama, dancing, art or music cope better with schoolwork, watch less television, and have a more positive attitude towards school later in life.
Using data from the longitudinal Growing up in Ireland study, it examined arts and cultural participation among three, five and 13-year-olds and was carried out by the ESRI in conjunction with the Arts Council.
It found that just under half of nine-year-olds and one third of 13-year-olds took part in a structured cultural activity outside of school.
Significant socioeconomic and gender differences in the types of cultural activities engaged in by children were identified in the report.
Participation levels in many cultural activities were also found to be lower among children from migrant families, especially at early years and primary stages.
Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Arts Council Director Orlaith McBride said the survey found girls from more advantaged backgrounds have the highest levels of participation in the arts outside regular school time.
She said that parental education and social class impacted how involved children are in such activities, as most are paid for privately, adding that as a national agency the Arts Council would like to see more of these initiatives being provided free of charge.
Young children who are read to frequently have better vocabulary and improved cognitive development by the age of five, the survey found.
It also found among older children, self-directed reading and taking part in structured cultural activities outside school contributed to cognitive development in terms of both verbal and numeric skills as well as to academic self confidence.