I love art. All of it. I’m not picky. So it’s always been important to me to incorporate art into my kids’ experience. Not necessarily making artists out of them, but equipping them with a desire, an appreciation, and some basic skills if they want to pursue it at some stage in their life. I guess to me, art is an avenue of worship, taking time to pause and appreciate the beauty our Creator has placed around us.
In the past, I’ve included it as a formal subject in keeping with the Classical Education model, and I think that worked well when they were really little. Now though, I’ve streamlined the essentials of our homeschool, what we must get done, and let art become a fluid part of our life. I’m incorporating art in the various subjects, activities, and areas of learning.
The one remaining “formal” aspect to our art is artist study. But even this is trimmed way down in Charlotte Mason style of “less is more.” We studied two artists from our history time period this year: Winslow Homer (for most of two terms, 24 weeks) and Frederick Remington (for our last 10-12 weeks). And by “study” I mean I have 4×6 prints that I either bought from Dover (artist post cards) or printed from online resources. We spent about 5-10 minutes a week on this, either reading the artist’s biography or admiring his pictures. Then, I tacked the picture to a gallery of the artist’s pictures on our window. That’s it. Next year, I plan to take the same approach with Norman Rockwell and Kandinsky.
Less has really proven to be just as effective (and much less stressful) than more.
Otherwise, art is an option for “play time” and “quiet time” activities. Art supplies are rewards they can earn with their chore point system. Personalized sketchbooks are birthday presents. And I peruse The Artful Parent resources for ideas to stimulate their creativity, when the moment presents itself.
Then, I set an example. I pursue art myself. I’m playing with Zentangle and card-making. I’m bringing out my calligraphy and using it again. I’m teaching myself to paint. I practice sketching.
The perks? Art is fun. It’s not a task that I have to do or that I feel guilty about not having gotten to on the lesson plan. I can’t get “behind” in art. And my kids get to pursue what truly inspires them. My “messy” artist gets down and dirty. My OCD child gets to keep his hands clean with sketching. My toddler gets to do it all! And learning new skills becomes a life-lesson, not just a class activity.