It’s kind of twisted, really.
I love science, but I really don’t like art! As a nurse, I have a science and math background. Those are my favorite subjects! When we did microscope work, I would find myself going back again and again to look through the microscope by myself!
But art…That was a completely different story.
Art was a weak area in my homeschool. It was one subject that we all had to work at, or it wouldn’t get done. If we didn’t set aside time for art study it would never happen! It may sound strange to some, but we never had that problem getting math or science done. Just art. You could say that instead of art being a “delight directed” subject, it was simply a “directed” subject.
But I was determined to provide a well-rounded education, even if it meant including this most obnoxious subject. I carefully scheduled art a few times a week for two hours at a time. I figured that should be just often enough, and provide enough time to get something done. Even so, it sometimes didn’t happen.
Here is the problem. Art is messy.
I’m tidy by nature, and art is messy by nature. We are a mismatch from the beginning. Art could get my house covered in so many crazy colors. Art makes a mess. Art caused stress because my kids just didn’t “get it.” And art takes so many materials! You have to buy so much stuff just to paint one thing! The problem for my kids wasn’t so much the mess. They had NO problem with the mess. It was just that every minute spent on art was one less minute doing what they loved; namely, math, science, chess and economics.
We all have weaknesses
I know for certain that art is my nemesis. I tell parents that when you identify your weak area, that’s what you do FIRST. It’s the first thing you spend money on when you buy curriculum. It’s the first thing you consider purchasing again when necessary, if your first choice doesn’t work. It’s the first thing you do each day. It’s the first thing you get done before going out to a fun event.
Finding the Spark
I never really sparked a love of art. My boys were simply not interested. I thought I had it all figured out when we tried pottery. After all, wouldn’t boys just love playing in the mud? But no, pottery was also merely tolerated. At least the mess (I mean “fun”) wasn’t in my house, but still the art idea didn’t take. I tried teaching art with games: The Impressionists Art Game and the Parker Brothers game called Masterpiece. They enjoyed playing it because they love to compete against each other, but I’m not sure a purist would call that “art.”
I knew I would really have to force myself to teach art. Others may be able to provide art “experiences” but as a true art klutz, I didn’t know how to do that. For me and my homeschool, I needed curriculum to help me teach that dreaded subject. When the children were younger, we used the book “Art Fun” the first year. My children were much more interested in reading the books than actually doing the projects. Slightly older, I used the curriculum “Feed My Sheep.” In high school we used “Draw Today.”
One year I realized that colleges wanted to see one year of Fine Arts on a high school transcript. As an art klutz, I had to go to the dictionary and look up “fine arts” to see what they meant. The Fine Arts are music, art, theater, and dance. You don’t have to do it all, and you don’t have to do it every year.
My children don’t enjoy drawing, but they tolerate music. One year I purchased a 10-CD pack of great composers. Each CD was a different composer. My idea was to have a “composer of the week.” We would just play a CD during lunch and maybe during math. I found portraits of the great composers on the web, that I would print. We read about them, sometimes online and sometimes from library books. In high school we studied music appreciation with “How to Listen to and Understand Great Music” by The Teaching Company. It was our favorite lecture series. The teacher has a wonderful vocabulary, and my boys would take college level lecture notes in real time, while listening to the wonderful music content.
Do it vs. Study it.
If your kids just “do” art, then maybe you don’t really need to “study” it. We needed to make art a subject, because my kids would never do it otherwise. We used books and curriculum for art history, perspective, and art appreciation. If you aren’t a modern day Michelangelo, don’t despair. You can give your children a perfectly acceptable appreciation for the arts. You don’t need to destroy your home or convert the hallway into the Sistine Chapel. The key is to be flexible and willing to see “Art” in creative (dare I say artistic?) ways. You can still emerge at the other side with balanced students who will appreciate (if not necessarily create) fine art.
I guess it worked. Fine Arts was my “great failing” in homeschool high school. I tried to expose my kids to art during high school but, honestly, it was a pretty pathetic effort. Fast forward two years. According to Facebook, here is what my son did one weekend at college:
Alex loved “The Marriage of Figaro” yesterday, went to the Seattle Art Museum today, and is going to “Rhapsody in Blue” at the Seattle Symphony tonight. The pattern is starting to damage my street cred.
Apparently it was successful. I’m amazed that someone like me, who is “artistically declined”, can raise someone who enjoys the arts so much!
Art klutz parents of the world, unite!
Lee Binz, The HomeScholar is a dynamic homeschool speaker and author. She is an expert on how to craft a winning homeschool transcript. Lee’s mission is to encourage and equip parents to homeschool through high school. Check out her Freebies, including her free mini-course, “How to Avoid the 5 Biggest Mistakes Parents Make Homeschooling High School.” You can find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/TheHomeScholar