Did you ever begin your homeschool year with grandiose plans for all of the art enrichment that you were going to include on top of your basic subjects? I have, only to become overwhelmed and then discouraged, feeling that there was no way to fit it all in. In the early elementary years, you are laying the foundation for skills in reading, math, etc. that you will build upon later. Taking time away from those areas can make you feel guilty at times. How can you find time for one without sacrificing the other?
- Farm it out. My children have taken inexpensive (and free) art classes at co-op, museums and our local library. Some of these activities fall outside of school hours. The ones that interfere with our typical school day don’t feel like interference when I know that there is the added benefit of getting my kids out of the house to spend time with other children. If you don’t want to sign up for a long-term commitment where you will be obligated to be there every week, consider classes at your library, which can often be signed up for one session at a time, when it fits into your schedule that week.
- Link it to another subject that you are studying. The history curriculum that we use suggests art projects to go along with the chapter that we are studying that week. This year, we reached a chapter on the Renaissance, and decided it was the perfect time to pause in our book and dedicate some time to learning about some great Renaissance-period artists. I have some artist biographies, art cards and fine art pages that I have been hoarding for the day that I had time to use them, and I went through and found what was applicable to the time period. We chose one artist per week, read a biography, viewed examples of their art, and watched YouTube videos about the artist. When we finished studying all of the artists that we had selected, I picked some of the art cards that we had viewed and wrote the last name of each artist on index cards. I laid both sets of cards out and had the children match the name of the artist to the art that they had created. I was pleased to discover that they were able to match them up without much difficulty and enjoyed doing it.
- Take a field trip to a museum. Field trips are a great way to add fine art appreciation to your homeschool. I feel this works best if you have already learned something about the artist whose work you are viewing or the subject matter of the art. On the other hand, it can also be the jumping off point to spend some time studying the artist when you return home from your trip.
- Take advantage of weeks that tend to be less productive. A great time for fine art study is the week before a major holiday or the last week of school, when your children tend to be distracted or you have a lot of your plate. One year, I found a free Kindle download of a picture study curriculum. Paintings were provided to observe, discuss and answer questions about. It kept them engaged while I did some holiday preparations and rounded out what otherwise would have been a short school day.
Don’t give up on those special subjects that you’d like to include in your day. Be creative about it and you can make it happen!