Art Through the Ages
Any well-rounded education includes exposure to art. If you are not particularly artistic, though, working art into your homeschool studies might seem like a formidable task. Don’t over think it! Remember, one of the beauties of homeschooling is that you get to learn alongside your kids. Studying art together can be fun and rewarding for all of you.
The first thing you need to do is make a rule for yourself. You will never say, aloud or in your head, “I am not creative.” It’s negative, it’s not true, and it’s not something you want your kids picking up. Everyone is creative in some way. Sure, your strength might not be in mixing colors or drawing portraits, but who cares? Jump in with the intent to learn and have fun. Remember that one of the best gifts you can give your children is to let them see you making mistakes.
With very young kids, a formal art program is not really necessary. Collect some quality art supplies: finger paint, acrylic paint, glue, glitter, old magazines, scraps of fabric, cotton balls, googly eyes, clay, and anything else you can think of. Spend an hour once or twice a week creating something. Put on some music and have fun. Kids this age do well making collages, painting shapes and basic figures, sculpting new worlds, and creating animals and people from things like old toilet paper rolls. Search the internet, children’s magazines, and your library for inspiration.
Kids ages eight and up can benefit from more formal art studies. If you are not comfortable creating your own, there are a few great options that will guide you through the process. One option is Meet the Masters. This program is fully downloadable, affordable, and offers extremely clear instructions. Each unit introduces children to a famous artist with a short video. The video is followed by a practice lesson and then by a project that conveys something about the artist’s style. The results by even the youngest children are impressive.
Drawing With Children by Mona Brooks is a wonderful resource for a parent who is willing to do a little pre-planning and who is willing to work side-by-side with his or her children. The list of supplies is not cheap but it is money well spent. Kids get frustrated using inferior markers, pencils, and crayons and their work loses some of its vibrancy. On the plus side, if you are teaching multiple children, they can share supplies with no problem. Most children pick up this method very quickly and produce stunning work. It’s parents that might struggle at first, but it’s worth the journey. Even the mom who swears she has never made a doodle on a notepad will surprise herself.
With kids of middle-school age and up who are interested in art, consider working through Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain with them. The key to using this book is practice, practice, practice (along with a willingness to produce some really ugly stuff when you start!). Even with kids this age, it is worth a parent’s time to sit down and work with them. They will see that you take art seriously and that you’re willing to try anything. (You can order a starter portfolio with all supplies, books and an instructional dvd here.)
Finally, take the time to see art and beauty all around you. Look for interesting trucks and vans while you’re driving, take time to notice graffiti (maybe read it quickly before pointing it out!), visit museums, and even large buildings if you live near a city (many banks in downtown areas have amazing art collections), seek out a sidewalk chalk event or stop and check out an old cemetery for beautiful carvings. Most of all, have fun creating art through the ages and stages of your children!