by Ashley Allgood
I will be the first to admit I don’t remember learning much about art and music in school. I vaguely remember tapping two sticks together to music, making a mess with paper machè and that’s about it. When it came time to start teaching my kids at home, I didn’t think much about art or music. I just focused on simple things, like drawing on paper and playing classical music CDs. It wasn’t until I learned about the Charlotte Mason that I understood the importance of art and music in a child’s education.
Charlotte Mason was a British educator in the twentieth century. She had a belief that you should educate the whole child and teach them healthy habits of learning. She felt art and music study were important in a child’s education. She is quoted as saying: “We cannot measure the influence that one or another artist has upon the child’s sense of beauty, upon his power of seeing, as in a picture, the common sights of life; he is enriched more than we know in having really looked at even a single picture.”
I admit I had no knowledge whatsoever about classical music or art. I felt at a loss, but when following the Charlotte Mason method, it is suggested to just focus on one artist and composer at a time. That didn’t seem too hard at all, and many different websites have suggestions for weekly/monthly studies of artists and composers.
When it came to teaching my children about artists, I followed the suggestions on the website Ambleside, since they had a list of suggested artists to study. My husband printed the suggested piece of art for each artist and laminated them. I hung up the pictures in our dining room/school room. We would spend time looking at the art, discuss the picture, make stories about it, try to draw it ourselves, read a little about the artist, and describe the art with their own words without looking at the picture. I admit I found this rather simple, but my kids enjoyed art study. We kept the lessons short at about ten to twenty minutes.
I learned the effect of this method as we visited museums. I remember as a kid going to museums and being bored out of my mind. I would get annoyed as my grandparents would read every single plaque and try to draw me into enjoying the art. I didn’t want to be there. As I watched my own kids walk around a museum, I saw them pausing at a piece of art and actually taking in something. A few times they would tell me it reminded them of a piece of art we studied. Together they would discuss the meaning of the painting and how it made them feel. I was in awe and felt proud of them.
Teaching music study is similar to art study, but I went about it a little differently. You can find guides and suggestions on different websites such as Ambleside Online but I just bought a few classical music CDs for kids. Similar to art study, we focused on just one song and composer at a time. I would also play classical music throughout the day or in the car. During the actual study time, we would close our eyes and listen to the music, read about the history of the composer, draw while we listened to the music, watch a video of an orchestra playing the music and so on. Again, we kept the lessons short.
Of course, this is a relaxed way to study art and music. If you want something more detailed, there are plenty of great curriculums out there for you to purchase.
My kids are much older now, and they do enjoy classical music, but it isn’t something they listen to willingly on their own. So I can’t honestly say if this has had a big impact on them or not. They do have fond memories of learning certain pieces, and if they hear a piece of music they will say they remember hearing it before. They do enjoy art and they thankfully rarely complain if we visit a museum.
I admit I’m surprised I have enjoyed teaching my kids art and music study. I’ve learned a lot myself.
Ashley Allgood is a Christian wife married twenty-one years to Michael. They have three children: ages twenty, sixteen, and fourteen. They live in Georgia where they homeschool their children. Ashley is a distributor for Young Living Oil, and has always loved writing and storytelling. Read her blog Thoughts Of Faith: mythoughtsoffaith.blogspot.com