In our culture today, we are starved for beauty. It is hard to find it in our art, our architecture, our literature, our music, and sometimes even in our worship. And yet, our souls and the souls of our children hunger for it.
As classical, Christian home educators, we want to guide our children toward a recognition of truth, goodness, and beauty so that they will learn to love objects that are worthy of their affection. My goal with my children this year is to pursue this trio through poetry, music, and art appreciation.
Every summer, my husband and I sit down to discuss our educational goals for our children for that year. We are going on our family retreat in just two weeks (yes, we are running a little late this year). At our meeting, we will discuss our goals for each child in the following areas: spiritual goals, responsibility goals, and academic goals. We discuss how to address heart issues such as selfishness, complaining, and quarreling. We will decide which chores each child will tackle this year and who will train them in the new task. Finally, we will set learning goals for each academic subject.
After attending parent practicums, meetings at Leigh’s house this summer, and the CiRCE conference, I have been inspired to focus more attention than ever before on beauty this year. So here is the rough schedule I have come up with. First, you should know that we like to complete all of our group subjects at the breakfast table because I find it too hard to gather my chicks again. They are a captive audience at mealtimes and I make the most of it.
7:00-7:30 – Rise, dress, and make beds
7:30-8:00 – Breakfast, fine arts, and short stories*
8:00-8:30 – Foundations memory work
*We save our Scripture reading for dinner time because Dad leaves early in the mornings. We want him to lead our discussions.*
Each day, we will explore a different aspect of fine arts.
Mondays – Visual Arts
Tuesdays – CC community day
Friday—Fine arts performance/review (we may draw, paint, write a poem or illustrate a poem)
I plan to keep things simple and short so that we will follow through on the plans. I purchased one resource, the DVDs and CDs for music history. Everything else is based on using materials I already had. For visual arts day, I plan to open up my chronological history of art in the western world and show the children pictures of painting and sculptures. I also have a set of artist flash cards, so we will read the back of those. For music history/listening, I purchased a curriculum that has DVDs and CDs so that we can listen to the music chronologically. We may even decide to use the music at dinner since Dad has an interest in classical composers.
For poetry, I plan to read one of my favorite poems each week. We may decide to memorize and recite some of them for Foundations presentations. I may assign my children to bring a favorite poem that they will read. On Fridays, we may do a quick drawing lesson or return to one of the poems, artists, or composers that we looked at earlier in the week. A couple of poetry collections I enjoy are Eloise Wilkin’s Poems to Read to the Very Young and Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends. (It’s important to have fun with poetry, too.) At the end of the article, I have included a list of some of my favorite poems to use with children ages 3-13.
For the short stories, I plan to use fables, myths, fairy tales, and legends. I want classic tales that can be read quickly and that will spark good discussion. Again, I plan to use resources I already own. Some of my favorites areThe Children’s Homer by Willy Pogany, Classic Myths to Read Aloud by William Russell (Ignore the introduction and the listening levels. I have used the whole book with children of all ages.), Aesop’s Fables, original versions of Grimm’s and Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy tales, and Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories and Jungle Books.
One bit of advice: take it slowly. It is impossible to savor beauty if you are rushing through it or tacking it on to an already hectic day. Fine arts should feed your soul and draw you closer to the beauty of the Lord.
“One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.” Psalm 27:4 (NIV 1984)
Poems to Share with Your Family
By William Blake
By Lewis Carroll
“The Walrus and the Carpenter”
By Sara Coleridge “The Year”
By Emily Dickinson “A Bird Came Down the Walk”
By Eugene Field “Wynken, Blynken, and Nod”
By Robert Frost
“The Road Not Taken”
“Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”
By Edward Lear “The Owl and the Pussycat”
By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
“The Children’s Hour”
“Paul Revere’s Ride”
“The Tide Rises, the Tide Falls”
By Christina Rossetti
“Who Has Seen the Wind?”
By Shel Silverstein
“Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout”
By Robert Louis Stevenson
By Alfred, Lord Tennyson
“The Charge of the Light Brigade”
“The Lady of Shalott”
By William Wordsworth “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud”