This blog post is going to be a little different. I have something this week that’s just for you! It’s not a real thing, but having it may inspire a real change in the way you look at your homeschool art explorations.
It’s a permission slip!
This permission slip is from me to you… here’s what it says:
Art is one of those subjects that seems intimidating if you don't have a background in art. But this is the absolute truth:
All kids need art! Even if they won’t go on to become artists.
It’s not just me saying that… many educators agree.
So what stops families from getting to art on a regular basis? I think a lot of it has to do with expectations and confidence.
We set unrealistically high expectations for what we’d like to accomplish, and then we lose confidence in our ability to measure up to the vision of that perfect project.
Let me tell you a story about how this cropped up in our homeschool, but with a different subject.
Years ago, I bought a book about how to teach Shakespeare to your kids. I was so excited! I came home from the bookstore and read the first few pages and immediately felt overwhelmed. I had studied Shakespeare in high school, and I loved it. But I haven’t read any Shakespeare for 25 years, and I felt like I needed to brush up a little before diving in with my kids. Things got busy and the whole idea got pushed to the side. Occasionally I’d see that book on the shelf and think about how I could work it into our studies, but it felt too hard so we never did.
This summer, something changed. On the outside, nothing was different, but I had a major mindset shift.
One night – totally unplanned – I pulled the book down and began to read it again. I realized that I could start this project RIGHT NOW… so we did! We followed the steps in the book, and my kids were instantly having so much fun! They loved memorizing Shakespeare! (Who knew!)
I ordered a few extra books on Amazon to supplement our study, and now we are deep into a really fun Shakespeare unit.
Why did I put this off for 2 years?!
It was my own thinking that got in the way. As homeschoolers, I think a lot of times we play tricks on ourselves. We tell ourselves things that aren’t true.
“I need to research that a little bit more.”
“I have to wait until I get all those books from the library.”
“We need to finish our science project before we can begin that.”
So here’s my challenge to you (and don’t forget about the permission slip that goes along with it).
If you feel about art the way I felt about Shakespeare, I challenge you to start small.
Whatever you have right now at your house (even if it’s construction paper and old crayons) use it!
Don’t wait until you have it all figured out.
Don’t delay because you haven’t ordered the books. Or purchased the kit. Or studied up on the painting yourself.
Just start. You can learn as you go.
Find a way to make art feel easy so that you will bring it into your routine more often.
Rather than looking at art in books (that you have to research and order or borrow from the library), look at art online!
Rather than doing the project that calls for the messy supplies (which you dread cleaning up after), adapt the project to work with washable markers!
Remember to refer back to your permission slip throughout the year and give yourself grace when it comes to studying art at home with your kids. Done is better that perfect.
Art really is too important to skip! Not just for the art studies themselves (although those are great), but for all of the amazing side benefits (like great conversations, reinforcing your kids’ natural sense of curiosity, and creating a family culture where appreciating beauty and exploring self-expression are valued).
I’ll leave you with an inside glimpse into our homeschool art experience that may surprise you.
Each month I research and design an amazing art unit for The Studio (the Art History Kids monthly membership.) There are so many interesting facts about the art and the artist to discover. There are amazing weekly project ideas. There are bonus learning opportunities in each monthly lesson that are fun and engaging.
But the reality is, I don’t do every one of these things with my own kids every month!
Sometimes we just talk about the art and don’t really get into the projects.
Sometimes it’s all about the projects and we don't do the deep discussions.
Sometimes we follow their current interests, or something else we’re studying that’s related to a different kind of art, or we just go to museums and look, or we just read story books about art.
My end goal for all subjects in our homeschool (art included) is that my kids will want to know more.
You can never finish a Picasso unit thinking, “Well, now we know everything there is to know about Picasso. Time to move on to the next artist.”
There are Picasso scholars who have spent their whole life learning about his art and his legacy… and they don't know it all!
There’s always going to be more to learn… learning never ends. So, let’s create an environment where learning is so much fun, they can’t wait to circle back and learn more later!
I used to worry and get stressed out if we didn’t complete everything listed in a unit study (whether it was science, literature, history, or something else).
Not anymore! As I’ve grown with my kids in this homeschooling adventure I’ve learned to trust the process. When we don't do everything in the lesson, I don't feel bad, or like we’re behind, or we’re missing out.
I celebrate what worked! I make notes about the observations they made. I put their work up on the wall for all to see. And then we move on.
Maybe we’ll circle back one day and do the things we skipped. But if we don’t, it’s ok. I’d rather do less and do it in a meaningful and memorable way than try to get to everything and make it into a chore. Or worse… skip it altogether (like I did with the Shakespeare unit for 2 years)!!
If you’ve felt the same way, I’d love to chat! Join our fun Facebook community and connect with hundreds of art-loving homeschool families just like yours!