- Reformation of the Arts and Music



Eight Secrets to Teaching Art in the Home
by Mike Branch

While most children seem to have an innate love of art, many home schooling parents are intimidated by the thought of teaching this subject. God, the Great Artist, has given each of us a certain level of joy and creative ability, but too often the busyness of life, inhibitions, criticisms, or lack of training rob us of this inborn desire. To avoid this happening to our children, we need to teach them that their talents and gifts are from God and that they must be used to celebrate their knowledge of Him and the beauty of His creation.

So, how do you develop the natural desire of young people to create?

1. Build confidence by expressing confidence

From the moment students begin art class, an important working arrangement should emerge. The instructor sets the tone for how pupils express themselves on paper, by the way she expresses herself to the pupils.

It is important to express a high degree of respect and confidence in your students early on. Their inclination is to respond in kind. This approach also reinforces character issues such as diligence and attentiveness, which are important to many home schoolers.

2. Teach skills step-by-step

Before a student can properly apply shading to a drawing, he must master more basic skills such as recognizing and drawing shapes. Before he can apply that, he must have the ability to control his lines. Helping students master each step along the way reinforces orderliness and guides them toward incremental success.

When painting, first have your students use basic colors. Then, have them mix a dot of white with the color. When they see how that looks on the paper, have them add more pigments to see how light and shadows appear on the page. Let each student complete the step before moving forward.

3. Encourage while redirecting

As students see the works of an accomplished artist or perhaps compare themselves to their siblings or other students, it is important to guard against discouragement. Visit your students while they work. Encourage them, responding to the effort each child is making. If a student appears frustrated or confused, quickly come to the rescue with "What if we tried a little more like this?" It is vital to quickly engage any child displaying the slightest hint of struggle or discouragement.

4. Inspire creativity by appreciating creativity

Often students consider themselves to be uncreative. With proper coaching, however, you can begin to see the ways in which they are uniquely gifted. By personal and sincere observations and praise about your student's work, you open important doors to the way he feels about his own creativity.

5. Teach beyond 'natural ability'

Properly instructed, children can learn to paint and draw. You need to get them away from the idea that artists are born with some special ability. Instead, help them understand that it is a process of learning skills and combining those skills appropriately.

With step-by-step instruction, practice, and praise, each child can develop farther than he initially thinks he can. What an encouragement it is when you hear a child say, "I can do this!"

6. Enjoy each student's work

As you help, especially a child of your own progress, you may find yourself measuring his work against your own expectations. From there it is only a short step to losing your ability to fill that student's specific need for encouragement and inspiration.

Instead watch for ways to truly enjoy your student's work. Focus on the breakthroughs. Share those moments when your child first "sees" all the shades of green in a tree, or subtleties in the sky. Nurture these seeds of creativity and appreciation, and they are sure to grow over time.

7. Consider ready-made resources

What is a parent to do when she has not benefited from extensive art training herself? How about using the same strategy employed in other disciplines? Trust in a curriculum to take over where you feel inadequate. An art text should be a guide from which you to learn drawing, painting, lettering, etc. Probably the best source for selecting curriculum is word of mouth-asking your home schooling friends what program has been effective in their homes.

Try to look for specific learning objectives in selecting curriculum. When reviewing a lesson, ask yourself, "What exactly will the student be learning in this assignment?" As in every other aspect of education, fundamentals are the building blocks in art. Therefore, look for a program that instructs with a traditional approach - "line upon line, precept upon precept."

8. Remember the bigger picture

As a home school teacher, you know that teaching is hard work! There will be times that you and your students will find yourselves overwhelmed. The secret to completing the long race is worth keeping in mind: Remember the bigger picture. Return to your vision of turning over your life and artistic/teaching talents to God. By constantly refocusing on your life purpose through prayer, Bible study, and giving glory to God for the outcome, you will muster that strength and perseverance to continue.

As you keep your focus on the big picture, the inspiration, encouragement, confidence - and success! - will take care of themselves.

Mike Branch, is a home schooling father of four children from Ft. Worth He has instructed a class of home schoolers using How Great Thou Art video and student materials.

This article first appeared in August 2001 Texas Home School Coalition REVIEW , a quarterly magazine published by the Texas Home School Coalition, PO Box 6747, Lubbock, TX 79493, (806) 744-4441, It is printed with permission of THSC.

Last updated: 12 April 2006
Updated by: Matt Bynum