Something I hear quite often from home schooling mothers is “I don’t have time for anything else” or “I am not creative and art is not my thing.” I understand!!! In listening to friends, who have five and six children in the home, meeting basic needs and completing the three biggies (reading, writing and arithmetic) are quite an accomplishment. But these conscientious moms believe in the benefit of art in their home schooling. So, how can you enable your artistic child to cultivate that gift? And why should you encourage your child, who has no interest in art and maybe very little confidence in art, to sit and draw, cut, glue, paint, or follow through on a project?
Why include art at home?
A multitude of reasons exist for incorporating art into your home school curriculum. Working on art builds finger muscles in younger children, which in turn, improves hand writing skills. Children learn greater observation techniques through art, which assist in their exploration and study of the world around them, science. They may even learn basic or more detailed drawing skills that are beneficial in every subject: for presentations, reports, diagrams, mapping, etc. One of the things that I love about art is that there do not have to be hard and fast rules in every attempt. Art is a wonderful outlet for some children after a long day of study. Art is a worldwide language as well. All peoples of all different cultures express themselves through art. When studying geographical regions, art is often an obvious way of identifying cultures, countries, and even continents. Studying art expands a child’s understanding of history and what occurred during certain time periods. Major historical events are usually recorded in period pieces. Thus, there are many gains in academics though studying art.
How do I accomplish art at home?
Okay, okay, okay. You are convinced that art is beneficial to your students, but how do you accomplish it when there are days/weeks/months that you are staying afloat on the academics?
1. Everything that we think, say, and do is to bring glory to God, so teach your children art through a Biblical point of view….through praising God as Creator. As you are using God’s Word to teach your children of the beauty of God’s creation, lead them to delve into studying His world from an artistic perspective as well as from your other subjects. Your child may desire to draw the birds that built a nest in your backyard, or your children may wish to take nature photos, press flowers, paint rocks, or save lovely items, that are far from lovely to you, from outside in their schoolroom, or bedroom even! They may beg you to paint, and you just don’t want the mess today. Try to schedule a time that they can paint and learn to place on paper what they are taking in from the world around them. ART! As all truth is from God, your subjects in your home school curriculum integrate, and art can be integrated into every subject. In math, beautiful graphs can be seen on papers of your artistic child. Even your child, who is less interested in art, should be encouraged to learn ways to improve the visual aspects of their graphs, their papers, their projects.
2. Treat art as a subject that needs to be studied, learned, and applied. Unless they are a prodigy, your child learns music through study, practice, repetition, and application. For example, your student sits with you at the piano, learns from you, plays, practices, and then performs…maybe for the family or maybe in a recital. Perhaps this is an area where you choose to send your child to class for extra instruction. Prior to formal lessons, though, you expose your child to music. You probably allow them to bang on the pots and pans in the kitchen, and then poke around on the tiny keyboard on the side of the giant book you gave them, and then you begin to lead them in how to make a tune. Maybe you teach them how to whistle, and they can whistle a simple song. You are instructing them musically. Learning art is much the same! Children need to be taught art and encouraged to practice art.
3. Grant the opportunity for your child to explore art. This can be done in a variety of ways.
- Keep art supplies accessible. Allow children to make a mess! Now, you can certainly control where and when the mess can occur, but don’t scold your child for being creative.
- Use the computer. Graphic drawing and painting programs are a great investment of time. There are sites that offer art activities for children, like coloring with the mouse.
- Encourage 2-D and 3-D art. By this, I mean that art is not always drawing or painting on paper. Sometimes it is piecing together broken shells from the beach on a wooden board, or layering colored beans in a bottle, or cutting photos into special shapes and making a collage of favorites.
Did you recognize that building a tent in the house is a foundation for art? Did you realize that your little Lego builder is also performing an artistic task? What about your daughter who puts real lipstick on her baby doll? ART! Certainly, children can and should be guided in what is acceptable and what is unacceptable art. I remember babysitting for a mother who allowed her son to “sticker” the entire lower half of her living room as a toddler. I would consider this unacceptable art, and boundaries can be set. However, moms too often discipline children for saving too many toilet paper rolls, making a mess with glue, and desiring to keep odd projects that we consider junk. I think a certain amount of this must be allowed for children to grow in their desire to investigate the world that God created.
4. Praise your children in their attempts at art. Often children need the reassurance from you that they are making great efforts in art. Home school mothers can “hover” over our children and “control” the outcome of their work. After all, we need a good picture to send to Grandma, or to frame for that spot in the hallway. Allowing your child to work at their own pace and at their own level will help them develop their ability to do art…whatever that may be! Don’t mistake this advice for leading your child in art in the opposite way…which would be having no structure in every art session. For example…”Here are the supplies. Do whatever you want.” Occasionally, this is a good idea, and this is a terrific option for children during their play time.
5. Most of the time, you should have an objective, a lesson or project prepared, a goal in mind. As your child follows your instruction, affirm their marks, their paint strokes, their color choices, and offer suggestions…guide, but don’t push for your way only. However, when children desire to totally deviate from a designated project, I usually encourage them by stating, “You can draw and paint a gila monster in your free time. Today, we are going to work together on an animal. Would you like to draw and paint a lion or a tiger?” Limiting choices for younger children, especially, helps build their confidence in art as they complete projects with you and realize that they “can do it.”
6. After praising your child’s final art-piece, display it. The refrigerator is the best display unit in every home! Siblings can have simple art shows at home where they hold up their artwork, show the family, and talk a bit about it. Also, take the time to enter your child’s art in contests. I home school with families who excel at this. Many enter their children’s work in the North Carolina State Fair. They help each other remember deadlines and follow contest rules. This is extremely beneficial to home schoolers who may not have an outside perspective that their artistic labors are worthy of recognition . The emphasis is never on winning, but on working toward a goal of preparation and a desire to do their best.
“But, I am not creative!!! How do I Make Up Art Lessons When I Can Not Draw Stick Figures?“
This is the topic for tomorrow’s blog. I will try to list for you easy, fun, and creative ways to include art in your home. I will also share the top materials you need to provide for your pre-schooler, your elementary student, and your middle/high school student.