7 Keys to a Good Homeschool Art Curriculum

I remember when my husband and I first decided to homeschool our children. We had just listened to an extremely powerful tape series by Gregg Harris which both convicted us and excited us about the value of teaching our children at home instead of sending them off to a traditional public or private school. As excited as we were, however, we soon discovered that the realities of homeschooling required quite a bit of work on our part to find the right kinds of resources we needed.

Fortunately, we had a number of friends who had also made the commitment to homeschool and we were able to pool our resources and exchange ideas on what to do and where to find the best curriculum for different subjects. Having the support of others during this time was crucial.

Since I was an artist and had formal training as an artist, I was skeptical about many of the homeschool art curriculums that were available through the places where I purchased curriculums for the other subjects. There were some that were good, but others that were just too basic, even for young children. So, like I did with many of the other subjects, I created my own through combining elements from a lot of different sources and, in the case of the art curriculum, creating most of it myself.

Over the years I have continued to modify and experiment with different things in my art curriculum, but there are a few key elements that remain the same. Here they are in no particular order.

1. Keep it fun.

My students, both my own children and others who have been in my homeschool enrichment classes, absolutely LOVE art class.  One of the reasons is that we find ways to keep the instruction interesting and fun. Students are able to express themselves in creative ways and they truly enjoy the process of seeing their ideas come together.

2. Take it seriously.

While I make sure that my art classes are fun, I also make sure that they take learning the subject of art seriously. Learning art is more than just play time. It’s an opportunity to learn the fundamental principles of art that will help them to truly master the subject and create “real” art in the coming years. They are acquiring skills that will last them a lifetime.

3. Keep it interactive.

Art is about “doing” as much as it is about “knowing.” While it is important that students learn the academic elements of art, such as the history, principles and various techniques, they also need to engage in the activity of creating art to truly understand and appreciate it.

4. Incorporate art history as much as possible.

The importance of art history cannot be overstated and it will serve students in amazing ways as they progress in their education. Art history often serves as a cultural timeline that helps students to understand the ideas and values that have shaped different cultures in the past.

5. Encourage creativity and experimentation.

I am constantly amazed at the ideas that my students come up with when I give them an assignment that requires them to incorporate their own ideas and creativity. This experience of creativity can be one of the most valuable aspects of their education.

6. Learn to really “see” the world around you.

Learning how to draw and paint begins with learning how to “see” things. Art encourages students to look around and to study the world around them. When they look at and study an object, they begin to appreciate the amazing beauty that God has placed all around us.

7. It’s okay to make a mess if you clean it up.

As funny as it may sound, this can be one of the most freeing and important ideas in your homeschool art curriculum. Creating art can be messy. By allowing your young art student to make a mess, you are allowing him or her to fully explore their creativity. On the other hand, by requiring them to clean up afterwards, you’re teaching them responsibility. Both are important “life lessons” that can translate into other areas.

These are just a few ideas that have helped me through the years. I hope they will encourage you to discover a few more of your own.  Feel free to add your comments below. I would love to hear your ideas as well.

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