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Homeschooling

Art the Charlotte Mason Way!

Is art education the unsolved mystery in your homeschool? It is for many moms—but it doesn’t have to be if you teach art the Charlotte Mason way!

Albert Einstein said, “It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression.”

Indeed, creativity is vital for a sound education, and art is an important subject to integrate into our homeschool. 

Charlotte Mason believed art should be a staple in every child’s education, and she explains a simple way to make it easy and effective when she writes:

 There must be knowledge … not the technical knowledge of how to produce, but some reverent knowledge of what has been produced that is, children should learn pictures line by line, group by group, by reading not books (about art) but the pictures themselves.

Ms. Mason felt there are two parts to art education: Appreciation and Expression. Let’s explore these two concepts.

Art Appreciation

Charlotte Mason believed children should be exposed to the great creative works and also the great Masters of those works.

She recommended choosing a great artist and several of his works to study each school year.

That’s a completely doable task.

After choosing your artist and gathering several of his important works, follow this simple method of understanding and appreciating the Master and his art:

  • Begin by imparting interesting biographical information about the Master. Have your child narrate back or give a presentation on what they learned about the artist.
  • Put the artist’s work in front of your children. Use a large art book or a poster of the piece you are studying. These can be obtained fairly easily on Amazon.com. 
  • Have your children carefully observe the artwork. Prompt them to look for color, shapes, textures, themes, people and objects. Have them identify what the artist included in the work and how these elements show the artist’s uniqueness. (Every artist has his own style with objects and colors that seem to always show up in his work).
  • Discuss with your children what they observed. Ask them to commit to memory as much as they can about the piece. 
  • Let them study it for about four minutes then take it away. Ask them to recall as much as they can about what they saw. As your children recollect the mental picture of the work, it will begin to imprint on their brain. They’ll get a clear image in their mind that will move from their short term into their long term memory. 

Using this method, your children will easily be able to not only remember the specific piece but will also identify other works the artist created. (And you will too!)

Art Expression

Charlotte Mason believed every child has artistic expression within.

She felt it was the educator’s job to awaken, hone and even increase a child’s creativity.

After exposing your children to the Master and his work, have them recreate the art piece.

  • First, have your children do a line drawing of all the elements in the piece: the landscape, people, buildings, and objects. This increases the retention of the masterpiece they studied.
  • Next, have them copy the masterpiece using pastels (or the medium of choice). Many of the great artists learned to paint this way. They would frequent the art museum to study and copy the great Masters’ works. When your children recreate great works of art, they are doing what the Masters did.
  • You may want to use an art technique resource like Discovering Great Artists or National Gallery of Art Activity Book. These books take the student from appreciation to expression with instructions on ways to mimic an artist’s technique or implement other art expressions based on the work.

Art Resources

Teaching art without support can be overwhelming and cause art education to go by the wayside.

I quickly found we needed guides and materials to keep creative expression going in our homeschool.

Here are a few of the materials I loved for teaching art: 

  • Paint Lab for Kids- This is a mixed media program that helps art come alive.
  • Drawing lessons- You can buy a book or an online tutorial subscription. I recommend You ARE an Artist! by Chalkpastel and Mark Kistler for high quality art instruction. You ARE an Artist! has pastel lessons that coordinate with Apologia’s Young Explorer Science Series. Charlotte Mason highly recommends using chalk pastels. No matter what books or programs you choose, drawing lessons will help to develop your children’s confidence in art expression.
  • High quality art supplies- One powerful thing I remember Charlotte Mason recommending when I was researching art education was to buy the best quality art supplies possible because your children deserve the best. I’m glad I took her advice! I promise your children will love art so much more if you provide them high quality supplies to create with. The colors are easier to work with and look vibrant on the page. Your children will love looking at what they are creating and your investment will add richness and longevity to all their works.

Ensure your children’s creations are the highest quality possible. You will be so thankful you did!

Art in Academics

Charlotte Mason recommends using creative expression in academics, especially history and science (of course this is why I added artistic activities in my science curriculum).

Creating art helps children transfer what they’ve learned from their short term to their long term memory.

When they spend time thinking about, mulling over and considering how to use the new knowledge to create something, they’ll enjoy the lesson much more and will experience a deeper love of learning. 

Allow your children to creatively express their learning in every subject. You don’t have to do art every day. Even once a month is sufficient. Be creative.

Think of ways to integrate artistic expression as you plan your weekly lessons.

Don’t stress over it. Just have a goal to consistently keep art a part of your children’s education.

Homeschooling gives us the freedom to do that. Allow your children ample time to express their school work and learning through art. You will look back and realize it was one of the greatest ways to take their knowledge and love of learning to the highest level. 

For more on teaching the Charlotte Mason way go here.

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