The Futility of Comparison: Homeschooling Style

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Crater Lake, 2007

What has been on my mind? It is something that every homeschooling mom thinks about from time to time. Comparisons….comparing our homeschool to other homeschools we read about in books and on the internet.

I know for a fact that many of you reading this blog entry have found yourself in the place where you feel as if “everyone else” is doing more than you are and that in some way you are slacking. I want to share something that encourages me when I start to feel that way.

It is from a forum post many years ago, I think from the Sonlight Forums. I didn’t save the original writer’s name but I will admit freely that she says it better than I could ever express. Don’t give me credit for her wisdom, I am just the messenger today. (If anyone happens to know who wrote this, please let me know.)

 

“We tend to look at homeschool mom A, who is doing great science experiments; homeschool mom B, whose kids are great musicians; homeschool mom C, whose kids read 17 books per week; and homeschool mom D, whose child just won a national art contest. Then we think ALL the moms are doing ALL those things, and we think we don’t measure up. All we do is play fun math games. But other moms look at us and think, ‘Wow, I wish I could even REMEMBER the math game ideas she makes up.’ “We tend to forget that we are all different, and we do different things. There probably is something that you do that many other homeschool moms wish they could do. Even if there isn’t, God gave you YOUR kids, because He knew YOU could do the best for them. “It is too easy to compare, and too hard to be content where we are. All the homeschool moms that you think have it all together are thinking of somebody else, or something else, that they would like to do, too.

Isn’t that the best? I have this in my planner and remind myself frequently that we all have our own gifts. We all have our own styles. Our children are our children and we know them better than anyone else and what they need in our homeschooling.

I may look like I have it all together when you read my blog but I am just like you and have my serious doubts about things too. 🙂

Lake Tahoe, Emerald Bay, 2007

Just like I would never compare the two majestic lakes in this blog entry to each other, we need not measure ourselves up to someone else’s yardstick. Each of us is a beauty in itself….no need to compare.

Hope this is encouraging to someone.
Barb-Harmony Art Mom

Drawing with Children Encouragement Again

“If people are dissatisfied with their ability to draw realistically, they should understand that drawing is a teachable subject. With practice and study, they can achieve success.”
Drawing with Children, page 11

Every year I try to read the opening sections of the Drawing with Children book. It always inspires me to keep on working with my boys and their drawing skills. I also find little nuggets of wisdom about the learning to draw process and I find ways to encourage my children as well as others through my blog.

“It’s interesting to note that when people accomplish something they never thought they could do, it changes their belief system.”
Drawing with Children, page 9

I find that quote to be so exciting and encouraging. I think it applies not only to drawing, but to all aspects of our life.

And if you need a little more encouragement to make art a regular part of your homeschooling, here is a quote from page 9, “School districts began doing studies to show that control groups of students given the Monart training were scoring better in reading, writing, and math at the end of the year.”

Aren’t we glad we homeschool our children so we can use the Drawing with Children plans in our homeschool week? I know that since I started putting art on the schedule and sticking to it each week, my boys have a better attitude about their other subjects.

“There is no right or wrong way to draw.”
Drawing with Children, page 8

I have been keeping track of a few families that are attempting to use this book for the first time this year and I see them struggling. I think it is a matter of realizing that a few minutes drawing each week is like a breath of fresh air. It clears the cobwebs and refreshes the spirit. Isn’t that part of the reason we homeschool? Don’t we want to provide things that public schools neglect or never seem to have time for? It takes effort and fortitude to push aside a more academic subject or one that we feel more comfortable teaching and actually pull out the pencils and paper and get started with drawing. This doesn’t have to be an *all or nothing* situation. If a week slips by without time for art, push it to the top one day the next week. Have a few minutes for art at the beginning of the day or take a few minutes after lunch to squeeze in a bit of art time.

I have found that over the years it has helped to make drawing a part of other subjects. I try to include some drawing in science and history assignments. Would you like to see a few samples from this year? Remember my boys have been through the Drawing with Children book several times and have used Mark Kistler’s Draw Squad twice. This is where you can be in a year or two if you stick with it.

History study

Science study

Lab chart from donnayoung.org

My children may never be great artists but there is much enjoyment and refreshment in spending a few minutes sketching each week. Practice and patience are needed to progress but great leaps can be made if you follow the plans in Drawing with Children.

Here are some links to Drawing with Children ideas you may enjoy:
My plans to use Drawing with Children on Squidoo
Drawing with Children-A Helping Hand
Drawing with Children-The Myths

Barb-Harmony Art Mom

Picture Study for Older Children

As high school students, picture study as a means of art appreciation can be very enjoyable. The boys are old enough to take the assignment on their own and view as many paintings as they wish for our featured artist. They usually start out on their own but soon they are calling me over to have me look at something they found that was interesting. I love those moments and try to make myself available to share their excitement…or disgust depending on the subject of the artwork.

This week I gave them a choice of artist’s to view. They could choose from Giotto, Donatello, or Brunelleschi. I asked them to pick one of the artists, view their works online, pick one image to print out for their notebooks, and then to copy the work or a portion of the work.

One son chose Giotto and we enjoyed scanning through various paintings and learning about Giotto’s style. After the time viewing the artwork online, my son chose a piece to view more carefully. He printed it out on our color printer and then sketched out a part of the painting for his notebook. They usually print out a 4 inch by 6 inch size so they are not using much ink at all. My son commented when he started this sketch that he was not very good at sketching people. I think he did a great job on this sketch and told him so when he finished. I think he was satisfied with his results, not excited but satisfied.

Free Homeschool & Notebooking Resources
If sketching is a little intimidating to your child, another idea that I have tried this year is to use notebooking pages from Notebookingpages.com’s free resource section on art. Here is a completed notebooking page from our study of the Limbourg Brothers. We really enjoyed looking at this painting and zooming in and looking at details on the computer screen. There is a lot going on in this painting and my son had a lot of questions about it when we finished. Does anyone know why they put the zodiac signs on the top of the painting? I haven’t had time to research the answer to that question.

I try to keep our art appreciation very open ended. I allow the boys to take an artist and give input about how they will document their thoughts and ideas. High school age students can be a challenge as far as trying to connect with them and to get them excited about school subjects. Art appreciation is something that we can offer that has no right or wrong answers. It is just enjoyable. I wish I could say the same thing about geometry. 🙂

More about the Limbourg Brothers
More about Giotto
My plans for high school art appreciation

Barb-Harmony Art Mom

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