Kids, Crayons, and Christ: A Vlog Journey
Often, when we think of teaching art to our kids (myself included), we find the task daunting, messy, and—if we’re honest—a little unnecessary. This is an embarrassing confession coming from me, an art school graduate whose husband teaches art and develops art curriculum for a living. Yet, here I am, still struggling to teach art and asking what many of you ask—why is teaching art to my own kids such a challenge?
Part of it is I’m maxing out on time with every other subject (what we’d call the core subjects). When I began homeschooling, I used a hyper-traditional school approach which left me burnt out with little to no energy for art. But, much to my kids’ disservice, I now tend to treat art like a “if we get to it” bonus subject. In re-reading a collection of C.S. Lewis’ writings called On Stories, he reportedly says to Tolkien, “There is too little of what we really like in stories. I am afraid we shall have to write some ourselves.” Is this not true of the arts in general? Fine art, yes. But also modern music? Movies? Plays? Need I go on?
Please allow me a short tangent here. The arts are like wings on which we can send truth and good philosophy and give an answer for the hope that is in us to the world. The challenge, of course, is how. Lewis’ Narnian chronicles wouldn’t have made it beyond the wardrobe if he himself wasn’t schooled in at least the basics of literature and story structure, never mind his classical training. Our kids must be technically trained in order to be able to use art as a vehicle that moves—moves the shifting sands of relativism and pluralism. As an artist, I want to participate in this movement. Not all of us are artists, sure, but what if our children are? Reading this makes me think the arts are not just some peripheral subject but rather like wings for all the subjects to take off. Do we not see “create” on the highest rung of learning achievement?
As for the “how to,” with five kids eight and under, the practicality of teaching art hits a blank canvas, no matter how stirring my “art as wings” tangent is. So here’s where I give you all the practical steps I’ve uncovered to make teaching art a perfect success.
Meh. Sorry, I don’t have that fairy tale ending yet, but I have something I hope is even better. I’m taking a quest with my three eldest kids this spring, in which I’m vlogging how to make art work in practical ways for elementary-aged kids. This is geared for kids 2nd-4th grade (but my younger three are all in on it, hehe). I hope our journey will be engaging and fun for you and your kids. You can view my videos on this blog, which goes live March 1, 2018: www.drawinguntohim.com/homeschool
Carole Ruffin is wife to Jesse and mom of five wonderful kids. She’s the author of Kids, Crayons, and Christ early elementary art curriculum, and also a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Art. She blogs about practical ways to include art in every subject, and also creative ways to teach older kids when you have a new baby. Here’s her blog: http://www.drawinguntohim.com/homeschool