Art for Homeschoolers

Bring out the creative genius in your kids, and discover that even the most artistically challenged can produce pretty cool artwork.

Isabel Shaw

Learn from the Masters, and from Books


I remember being totally involved in an art project as a child in school. Suddenly, the bell would ring, signaling the end of class – what a disappointment! Not only did I have to abruptly shut down my creative energies, but my artwork would be put aside until we had art class again the following week. Sometimesthe next class was a new project entirely, and my unfinished work was simply discarded.

Children who learn at home have a unique opportunity to enjoy the creative process for as long asthey wish. Parents ask, "How can I inspire my kids' artistic inclinations?" Armed with crayons, markers, paint, clay, beads, fabric, and various discarded items (I hesitate to use the word "trash"), there is no way to stop your kids from being creative! Place newspapers or otherprotective covering on the floor or table and allow for some serious mess-making. You'll be rewarded with an endless flow of artwork to adorn your walls, windowsills, and of course, refrigerator!

Art Masters


The best way for kids to understand and appreciate art is for them to observe art. It's never too early to start visiting galleries and talking about what you see. Before we visited the Metropolitan Museumof Art, my kids spent a few months looking at art books, focusing on a different artist each week. Weborrowed books from the library and purchased several others from the "Getting to Know the World's GreatArtists Series" (ages 5 to 9) by Venezia.

Another good resource to help kids appreciate art is Artext. This unique program features up to one hundred 3x5 or 8x10 glossy prints of famous artwork. The accompanying book, Learning More About Pictures, explains a bit about each painting and artist. Supplying schools andhomeschool families since 1921, Art History is an excellent introductory program for all ages.

Auditory learners will enjoy Lives of the Artists:Masterpieces, Messes (and What the Neighbors Thought) by Kathleen Krull. From Da Vinci to Warhol, this collection of miniature biographies of the great artists will keep kids entertained while theylearn about art history. (Two 2-hour audiocassettes)

When you visit a gallery or museum, suggest that your family ask themselves,"How do I feel about this artwork? What do I like or dislike about it?" Of course, there are no right or wrong answers, andit's fun to observe each other's preferences. Find museums in your region, ortake a virtual tour from the comfort ofyour own home. How about a visit to the Louvre, homeof the Mona Lisa?

When your visit to the museum is over, Culture Smart! by Susan Rodriguez will keep the creativejuices flowing. This colorful book features 120 art projects, complete with a materials list and step-by-stepdirections – a good way for your kids to create a few masterpieces of their own!

Art Book for Younger Kids


TheOxford First Book of Art by Gillian Wolfe contains an eclectic collection of paintings, drawings, sculptures, and textiles. For parents who want their younger kids to appreciate art, but prefer a book with no nudity, the Oxford book fits the bill. You'll find beautifully reproduced artwork as well asactivities, quizzes, and facts about both well-known and unknown artists.

Drawing for the Artistically Challenged


Would you love to be able to draw? Better yet, draw and be able to teach your children how to draw? Most parents believe they suffer from lack of artistic talent and could never learn this skill.Drawing with Children author Mona Brookes disagrees. She believes that the Monart method, outlined in her book, can help everyone learn to draw. Skeptical, I decided to give it a try.

After reading and re-readingDrawing with Children (the revised and expanded tenth anniversary edition), I made the appropriatecopies of pages to be used as practice sheets, bought the recommended supplies, gathered my kids, and began the program. I watched in amazement as my daughters went from drawing scribbled stick people to makinglovely, colorful birds and lions, surrounded by identifiable palm trees on a beautiful shoreline. Theirnow-framed and proudly hung artwork often elicits comments from visitors who tell me how "talented" they are! My drawings? Well, I haven't progressed as rapidly as they have, but enough that I secretly say, "Hey, that's pretty good!"

Producing beautiful artwork isn't the only benefit. According to Brookes, "Schools are reporting up to a20 percent increase in reading, writing, math, and language skills for students who are exposed to theMonart program." Creative expression appears to aid and foster critical thinking skills. Once you have mastered the lessons inDrawing with Children, you can continue with Brookes' Drawing for Older Children and Teens. This book covers perspective, shading, and the differentstyles of drawing. (You can also start with Drawing for Older Children and Teens; one book is not a prerequisite for the other.)

Special Needs


Child Art Therapy: Understanding and Helping Children Grow Through Art by Rubin is a comprehensiveguide for all special-needs teachers and homeschooling parents. Though the book is rather costly (about $75), parentsworking with their special-needs kids will find it invaluable.

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