8 Ways to Easily Teach Art Appreciation

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. To make it easier, below we provide 8 ways to easily cover art appreciation. But first, let’s talk about why it makes sense to invest our precious time in art in the first place.

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

Why Teach Art Appreciation

There are many reasons to teach art appreciation. But most of these reasons go back to an educator’s definition of education. What is it that we are attempting to accomplish? For some, education is “not the filling of a bucket.” For some education is the development of the mind and heart of an individual — teaching an individual how to learn.

In this context, teaching art appreciation is a given. But if you are still not convinced art appreciation is worth your time, here are a few other reasons to include art appreciation in an otherwise packed day:

  • To learn more about those who lived before us.
  • To develop observational and critical thinking skills.
  • To create a balance between the useful and the beautiful.
  • To teach students to value being well-rounded, having an interest in many things.
  • To appreciate the finer things, raising the bar when it comes to making decisions every day.
  • To improve academic performance:

    Studies show that there is a correlation between art and other achievement. A report by Americans for the Arts states that young people who participate regularly in the arts (three hours a day on three days each week through one full year) are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement, to participate in a math and science fair or to win an award for writing an essay or poem than children who do not participate.

    “The Importance of Art in Child Development,” Grace Hwang Lynch, PBS for Parents

8 Ways to Teach Art Appreciation

Convinced? Here are 8 ways we can incorporate art appreciation into our day without breaking the school-time budget:

1. Tie Art to History

This is a very easy connection to make. Each period of time has its own art and music. Learn art right along with history. As you move through the timeline view selected works of art from the period.

If you are keeping a history notebook, include period pieces, along with the artist.

As you move through the timeline of history, works of art fit right in in their chronological setting.

2. Be Selective

There is no need to try to cover everything as you would if you were taking an art appreciation class. Instead, be picky. Time is limited.

Rather than going broad, go deep. Choose a few artists to focus on each year.

Or pick a theme to pursue.

Exposure to works of art is the goal.

3. Keep the Artist Bio Short

In a full-blown art appreciation class, you would want to delve into the life of the artist to get a better feel for his work. But, particularly for younger students, the point is the art not the artist.

Tying art to history, as previously mentioned, is an easy way to do this.

4. Study One Artist Each Month

As mentioned above, choose a few artists to explore each year. You can learn a new one each month for younger children.

Older children can benefit from going a bit slower, or some learning three artists each year.

Look at one piece of art by the same artist each Friday (or any other day of the week when your load is lighter).

5. Keep it Simple

Try not to make the experience “schooly.” Spend no more than 1/2 hour studying a work of art.

The point is enjoying great works of art. Worksheets and quizzes are not necessary.

6. Use Narration

Instead of quizzes ask your child to tell you what he sees. Other prompts can be:

  • What stands out to you?
  • What do you like?
  • What do you dislike? Why?
  • What might you have done differently?

He will be developing an appreciation for the artist studied, while exercising and developing his powers of observation.

7. Keep an Art Notebook

If you are not keeping a history notebook, or if you choose to cover art separately, the narrations can be included in an art notebook.

Include several works of art by the same artist.

Documenting the process will help it stick.

8. Repeat the Interaction

Repeated encounters make it easy to glean more from a work of art. Ways to accomplish this include:

  • Keep a copy of the work of art in a frequently visited location.
  • Use the print as a desktop background or background on a device.
  • Keep a “wall of frame” where the framed pieces by the same artist are collected.
  • Have a morning time when the entire family is gathered in one place to view the print.

Additional Resources

7 Ideas for Picture Study
Simple ways to just study the picture.

Artist Notebooking Pages Set {Free Download}

Artist Notebooking Set
Simple pages for creating your art notebook.

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