Monday, December 8

Art, the bane of home school moms

I loved art in school. I looked forward to it every day. When I wasn't in art, I was doodling. Even as an adult: I doodle as I talk on the phone, I tweak blog designs, I attempt scrapbooking and quilting. I have zero talent, yet I have an apparent need to find a creative outlet somewhere. But I always forget to teach art.

I forget Art. Isn't that terrible?

It will be 8:00 at night, the kids are in brushing their teeth and it occurs to me, "Oh, no! I forgot to teach art!" This is especially sad because my children would do nothing but art if I allowed them to lead the day. All four of my babies have a need in them to create. They build, they draw, they paint, they sculpt. Not necessarily well, but they do it every chance they get.

So how I can forget? First and foremost, for me, is probably the layout of most art programs. When I pull out a lesson, I need to be able to do so neatly and concisely. I do not need to sit down and read a novel about the topic and sort through it to find a specific lesson for the kids only to discover that it needs bizarre supplies not found in my small town, let alone my small cupboard. Ease of use is important.

Second, is time. I have more topics that I want to cover with my children in a day than I could possibly fit into our schedule. We have topics that are top priority - they must be covered if my children are going to get into a good college and get high paying jobs that support their parents who never thought to invest in a good retirement plan before their children were even born. Art is nice, but Algebra is better. But not really.

Having the opportunity to review products with the crew for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine has been a tremendous blessing to my family. Especially in the area of Art.

The program sent for us to try is from Spears Art Studio, Inc. We have been implementing their K-8 program into our daily studies very smoothly. It came as a cd-ROM. I printed the opening material and then the specific months we needed at the time. I was not expecting much. I was so very pleasantly surprised. It's an unassuming little cd, yet it holds an entire year's worth of art lessons (and so much more) for each year of a student's career through elementary and middle school! Each lesson is broken up into a weekly theme. This theme is shared by all age groups, so each of your children can sit together for the opening introduction and then work separate lessons based on their grade levels and abilities.

The theme page includes Objectives for the students, Theme Scripture, Art History, and Teacher Inspirations. There is so much to draw from, though it isn't necessary to cover everything at all. After the theme itroduction, you're on to the week's lesson. Each age group has a different lesson for the week that fall under the same theme. My favorite lesson so far has been the first week of November's theme of Trees. We studied Isaiah 55:12 and discussed praise. We examined the way a tree really looks and thanks to an amazing lesson, even my 5 year old was able to draw a tree that looked like a tree! It bothered her though. She really wanted a stick with a ball on top for her tree, but she played along and drew the "Y" shape with branches for her mama's sake.

As much as I enjoy the art curriculum, I also gleaned so much from the introduction alone. Dr. Diane Spears has written an amazing guide with this program and it has educated me even more than my children. She has taught me to appreciate the need for Art in our schedule and in our lives. A free copy of her chapter "Art is Good for my Brain" is available on the Spears Art Studio website. I really want to convey the insight shared in this book with you and have to share a statement from her introduction that I felt really spoke of the author's heart toward art, knowledge of how children respond, and respect toward the working of the Holy Spirit: "....By using God's Word as a standard, we can discern that much popular and famous art will not inspire us, nor glorify God. Since it is so easy to fall into negative thinking, children, who are so impressionable, should be encouraged to create "lovely"art. Let us be very cautious about censorship, however. A troubled child will create troubled art, and this is an opportunity to minister ot the child. Be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit: He will show you if the child is expressing darkness and death for sensationalism, or whether the child actually has a troubled heart."

There are several free sample lessons downloadable from their website. Here is a link to the lesson we completed last week: December, Week One, grade 8. Its timing was perfect; we were studying stained glass with our Christmas School lessons! It was a little advanced for the boys, but it fit our theme so well, I gave them the 8th grade lesson. I was a nervous wreck handing exacto knives over to an 11 and almost-9 year old, but they managed it quite well.

The boys are quite proud!

Now, let's talk cost. Several of the products I've had the opportunity to review have fallen into the category of great, but expensive. There are quite a few that, while I really enjoyed, I would not have stretched my budget to acquire them. This is not one of those programs. The cd, which includes excellent teacher instruction, easy to follow lay-outs, and an art program to last from Kindergarten to 8th grade only costs $39.95. Completely worth it, in my opinion. If my cd were lost or scratched, I would not hesitate to replace it. I'm not sure I could say that about very many of our homeschool materials. I might feel a pang of regret or even shed a tear if we lost access to the other products, but I would mourn and move on because I couldn't justify spending the money on replacement. There would be no tears with the Spears cd....just a quick trip to the website to place another order. Give the free samples a try, I'm sure you'll agree.

For other opinions on this product, visit the Homeschool Crew website and take a look around.

*They also have a high school art curriculum and other programs available as well.


Kristenph said...

Excellent review!

Mel said...

Wow, makes me want to go get it right now! Does the program teach how to tell if a child's art is "troubled art?" I thought that part was really interesting. I did a psych rotation in nursing school, and it was so interesting to see the psychologist review the patient's pictures they had done; she could tell something about that patient by his drawing. Just interesting.

SmallWorld at Home said...

Great review! We've been fortunate to have a fantastic art teacher in our co-op. I used to do "Fine Arts Friday" with my kids, during which we'd explore various artists and also composers. However, I eventually dropped that in favor of the art teacher at our enrichment classes!

Tonia said...

Great review! :0)

Do you know how I could join the homeschool review crew? I'd be interested in joining if there is an available opening. Thanks.

home school support said...

useful information nice to read it.

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