In a busy homeschool schedule, the first “subjects” to fall by the wayside are usually art, music and other “extras.” But a focus on the practical at the expense of the beautiful will rarely have the payoff we desire. If we are hoping to educate the whole child, then art and music study will find their place beside history and science.
We cannot measure the influence that one or another artist has upon the child’s sense of beauty, upon his power of seeing, as in a picture, the common sights of life; he is enriched more than we know in having really looked at even a single picture.
Charlotte Mason, Home Education, Volume 1
To that end, here are a few ways we can incorporate art appreciation without breaking the school time budget.
- Incorporate art study right along with history. Really “subjects” have limited uses in a homeschool or tutorial setting. As you move through the timeline of history, works of art fit right in their chronological setting.
- Choose well. Time is limited. Choose those artists and works of art that are worthy of study.
- Keep the artist biography short. There is no need to delve into the life of the artist. Particularly for young children, the point is the art, not the artist.
- Study one artist per month. Look at one piece of art by the same artist each Friday or other day of the week when the load tends to be a bit lighter.
- Keep it simple. Spend no more than 1/2 hour studying a work of art. Worksheets and quizzes are unnecessary. The point isn’t to school up art, but to learn to enjoy great works of art.
- Have your child narrate what he sees. Instead of telling him what he should see in any work of art, ask him what he does see. What stands out to him? What does he like? What does he dislike? What might he have done differently? He will be developing an appreciation for the artist studied, while exercising and developing his powers of observation.
- Make an art notebook. Since our time is limited, we’ll want a vehicle to document what we learn and refer to each week to refresh our memories.
- Continue interacting with a work of art during the entire week. One easy way to accomplish this is to set up selected works of art by one artist as a screensaver (set to classical music that is being studied concurrently). Or simply find a unique way to display the work of art being studied each week.