Fine Arts Curriculum: 5 Ways to Instill Art Appreciation in your Child

JMJ129  *One way for your youngster to develop an artistic interest, is through putting together an experiential kit for them to enjoy art on their own terms.  When my kids were much younger, I was busy enough just getting everyone fed and the thought of classes for my 3-year-old was definitely one thing too many.  And so we did a lot of art at home. 

Ring the School Bell 129/180 Days

On the homefront, I finally mended some items that I had placed on the coffee table earlier this week, so the day started off with a note of accomplishment.  Next, I cuddled up with my daughter Sabrina, and together we watched an art appreciation DVD, brought to you by Great Courses, a resource which we have employed several times over the years.  Professor Sharon Latchaw Hirsh, has been taking us on an art adventure, teaching us how to “Look at and Understand Great Art”, which is the title of the course.  Not only is she instructing us about the different elements which comprise art, but she is also taking us through different periods of the art world in Europe.  I am thoroughly enjoying it.  What a great 30-minute break it is to sit down and listen to such an interesting speaker every few days, with Sabrina at my side.

Later, Sarah and I worked on grammatical corrections to her writing assignment.  She tends to leave out critical words in her essays, so she keeps me on my toes as editor-in-chief of her work!

5 Ways to Help your Kids Develop an Appreciation for the Arts

It has taken me a lifetime to fully appreciate the arts.  Here are a few ways to help instill a love for the arts in your own kids.

  • If you feel that your kids are too young to develop an appreciation for the arts, think again.  One way to develop artistic interest and even talent in your youngster, is through putting together an experiential kit for them to enjoy art on their own terms.  When my kids were much younger, I was busy enough just getting everyone fed and the thought of classes for my 3-year-old was definitely one thing too many.  And so we did a lot of art at home.  I usually had a table in the house which was covered with art materials, with things such as: crayons, glue sticks, colored paper scraps, safe scissors, play dough, colored tissue paper, chalk, paper plates and such. A creative mess, to be sure! But what interesting things they came up with, as their imagination was awakened! Open up the world of art to your child, a passion which may last a lifetime!
Sarah’s portrait of Walt Disney, age 16
  • At some point, you as a parent may decide it would be beneficial for your child to take an art class, acting class, or music lesson.  I can say, firsthand, that it is worth the financial sacrifice.  In our case, we opted to homeschool and used the savings from not having to pay for private school, toward arts education. Over the years, our three daughters have tried many things, some that stuck, some that did not.  What fun it is for parents to see their children enjoy the visual and performing arts and grow in their talents.  When our girls were all in grade school, for example, they enjoyed ballet for a number of years, and we were treated to several dance revues.  Studio art and piano lessons have lasted through their childhood and teenage years.  My dad, a watercolor artist, also gave them inspiration and pointers too, that kept their artistic interests alive. We were also blessed with help from a couple of homeschool charters which picked up the tab for some of the art classes.
Melissa at age 15, with her watercolor modeled after Larry Gluck, who sadly passed away the very day which Melissa completed this piece of art.
  • Survey your kids to discover what they might like to try out. By offering the opportunity to enjoy the arts, they will come to understand what they do and do not like.  They will also develop a healthy respect for fellow artists.  Art appreciation is not something to be forced on a child.  Some kids may not be interested at all, and that is okay.  The main thing is to give them the opportunity to learn and appreciate different forms of art.  Sarah had a disdain for piano lessons, for example.  The piano teacher would come to our home and teach our girls one at a time.  When she was finished with one, she would jokingly announce, “Now where is my next victim?”  Sarah could be found cowering under her desk.  After a little while, we both figured out that this was not a way Sarah wanted to express her creative side.  Yet, Sarah is a very gifted sculpture artist, doodler, and painter, and eventually won numerous distinguished awards in this field.  Piano was just not her thing!  It was Melissa and Sabrina’s passion.
  • One of the best ways to find out what your kids might be interested in, is to attend performances.  Look at local theaters for possible matinees and for venues which may offer discounts for groups of children.  The performers may also have a shorter performance which caters to children, with question and answer sessions, that can be a real inspiration for the group of children attending.  Make it a point to get out there at least once a month, on a field trip to a play, an art museum, or a concert.  Even better, go with a group of friends!  You will not regret it.  We have enjoyed the Nutcracker Ballet many times, ensembles of different musicians, organ concerts, Wizard of Oz as well as other plays, and my favorite, the Bob Baker Marionette Theater.  Bob was a very special puppeteer, who put on shows for crowds of schoolchildren.  He handcrafted his own beautiful puppets for the shows.  My kid were so inspired that they decided to create their own and take them back to the theater the next time they went to a show.  If you homeschool, as we do, take advantage of the fact that you have the option available to you within the school day, to go on many field trips to art venues.  Lastly, when your family may be traveling through the country to get from point “A” to point “B”, take some side trips to remember, that have artistic value.  Two that come to my mind are the Oklahoma City Gardens downtown which are beautifully designed, and the Kentucky blown-glass museum.  And remember, when all is said and done, your child may decide that they just want to be a spectator of great art and that is okay too!  After all, great art collectors do not necessarily know how to paint!
  • With older kids, find an outstanding online course such as the one I mentioned at the beginning of this narrative, and do not forget to include a related field trip or two to make it come alive.  Sarah and Melissa, two of my daughters, took a drawing class at the local community college, while still in high school.  Lucky them, the city of Pacoima, randomly chose their class to receive free art supplies, which anyone who has ever taken an art class can fully appreciate.
Sarah and Melissa, much younger, with their puppets, at the Bob Baker theater.  The giraffe was homemade by Melissa.

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** Note to the Reader- Today’s narrative is an excerpt of our family’s school journey from a few years ago, during my eldest daughter’s senior year in high school, a rather emotional year, with its many ups and downs.

May God shower blessings on your family as he has on mine.    Annette




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