As a home educating mom, I can enlarge my interests as my children are being educated. Fine arts is definitely one of my interests. A departure from a typical public education, I’m eager to expand our repertoire into classical music, fine art, and traditional literature.
These interests definitely originate with me. I didn’t attend a fine art’s college or take a fine arts bachelor degree (nursing science was my focus). What do I have to offer? The same thing that fuels the best educations: curiosity.
What do I mean by fine art? That phrase itself can mean so many things.
Here I am talking about the study of classical music, visual art, poetry and classical literature.
For a half hour each morning, we start our day reading poems or passages from “Stories and Poems for Extremely Intelligent Children of All Ages” (yes, it’s really titled that, a rather pretentious title, if I do say so myself). An anthology of William Wordsworth, Robert Louis Stevenson or Emily Dickinson, a reading from Agatha Christie, Charles and Mary Lamb’s Shakespeare or Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales are just as intelligent. While I read, the kids keep their fingers busy by drawing, colouring, painting, sewing or whatever handiwork they’re presently interested in.
We load the Classical Pieces 101 CD and play a game of “Who remembers who wrote this piece and its composer?” After a while, everyone has learned Adagio by Albinino, Mozart Air on the G String and Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. They already knew Fur Elise, as we’ve had two practicing pianists at different times, and so many arias recognized from years of violin practice. Recognizing the eeriness of Berlioz’ Fantasia and the charm of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons at least add to their cocktail party chit chat.
When my husband and I have been to a classical performance or concert, we bring home the program and share each piece via Spotify. And there are times that they join us for these concerts too. I also keep a playlist for the kids’ study time. Sometimes they request no music for math studies, and sometimes a playlist of choral and sacred music keeps us focused.
I have always been interested in French Impressionism, purchasing prints of Monet from Rona (yes, the hardware store) when decorating my first apartment. With our family’s travel and exposure to museums in Atlanta, the Met in New York, the British Museum in London, Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Louvre in Paris, the National Museum of Kenya in Nairobi, the Sistine Chapel in Roma, and the Galleria dell’Accademia to see Michelangelo’s David…and a bajillion other museums in Italy, and of course, in Canada too, I have definitely whetted my appetite for genres beyond Impressionism.
I’ve graduated into reading on the lives of Impressionists and their art, but I like the kids’ art study books just as much. Check out the “Come Sit with Me” series that will help you process the details of the piece you’re looking at. Recently, we’ve been staring down a couple pieces from “The Great Book of French Impressionism” that I found at New York’s Met. Inexpensive purchases can be found at used bookstores too. Or there’s always Freeschool YouTube videos on famous artists and their work.
I prefer staring down pieces myself, especially table art books of Renoir, Monet, and Van Gogh. I have expanded my repertoire with on-line apps like those from all those above art galleries. To easily unpack a piece, to add meat to the story behind a piece, I love the series by Angela Wenzel that we recently finished: “13 Art Mysteries Children Should Know”.
“I believe arts education in music, theater, dance, and the visual arts is one of the most creative ways we have to find the gold that is buried just beneath the surface. They (children) have an enthusiasm for life a spark of creativity, and vivid imaginations that need training – training that prepares them to become confident young men and women.”
– Richard W. Riley, Former US Secretary of Education