28 May 2009

Subduing the Guilt- Art

There are a number of things a homeschool family can do to subdue the guilt monster when he sneaks out from among the curriculum guides. The first thing we did was create a craft box. (Now, our crayons, colored pencils, markers, pencils, blank paper, scissors and glue sticks are such a part of our everyday school and afterschool life that I don't include them as special art supplies.) I filled the box with all of the supplies that had previously been floating around the house. This included finger paints, water colors, pipe cleaners, felt and fabric swatches, buttons and brayers, the hot-glue gun, elmer's brand glue, goggly eyes, stickers and old magazines. There is a surplus of craft-based idea books and websites to choose from so that you can best utilize these supplies. However, this only worked to squash the guilt for a short time. I was concerned about real art skills, not opportunities to make crafts.

Next, I tried to assuage the guilt by getting How-To drawing books from the library. It was during this time that I researched art lessons in our area. I also looked through the excellent Rainbow Resource catalog for art curriculum. I soon got two new kinds of guilt: Can't Afford Lessons Guilt and Don't Want to Teach Entire Art History Curriculum Guilt. Great! I had found an excellent art history and appreciation course that even incorporated art skills, but I was not going to use it. In this season of our homeschool career I am unwilling to teach an entire art course, even once a week. Committing to that and then falling behind on it or, worse yet, teaching art while shirking our phonics would lead to entirely new kinds of guilt.

I found out that I just wanted the kids to magically be exposed to art. I wanted them to absorb art history and learn art skills without any more from me than driving them to lessons. I mainly wanted to be able to say, "We homeschool and we have time for everything! Look at their art knowledge and skills! See how amazing I am as a mother and teacher!" Finding the source for our guilt is crucial to subduing it. So on this journey so far, I had already learned a few important things:

1. I wanted the kids to learn new artistic skills if they loved to draw
2. I couldn't afford lessons
3. I didn't want to commit the time to teach a course
4. I thought a well-rounded education should include a
a)knowledge of art terms and styles
b)basic artistic skills/ experiences in a variety of medias
c)exposure to the development of art in history
d)exposure to major artists and types of art (sculpture, paints, etc)
5. There is a season for this kind of learning
6. I had to deal with my own pride issues and not foist them on my kids

What did I end up doing to eradicate the guilt? For our family, for this season, what works for us is art software for our computer. I purchased a program for $26. Now, my kids are learning about appreciation, history, and skills on their own. I don't let them watch tv in the early mornings, so I'll frequently come out in the morning to get my coffee and they're already learning. Later, I'll be in the kitchen and be overhearing their lessons and learning something myself! They use it whenever I say "No tv" but they don't want to go outside. For us this works.

For your family, you may want to take a different approach. The software I chosehas 16 lessons with 2 subtopics for each lesson, and additional skill-builders on the side, and a decent library of works of art with artist bios and dates. What's 16 X 2 if not an entire year of weekly lessons? Maybe you'd like a more structured approach to the same software, such as assigning each lesson and limiting when to use the software. Or, you could use the software as an intensive summer course. Use the vacation time to focus on 'extra' subjects like this. This kind of subject lends itself easily to a unit study.

The last point I'd like to make is that like so many other things, homeschooling has its seasons. Our family is in the elementary age season, I shouldn't worry about the development of painting in the history of the world. Let them use tissue paper and paper towel rolls! However, when everyone has mastered reading and writing and math, then there will be time for the more intensive (and fun) courses.

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