Great Guest Post! – Why Teach Your Child to Draw?

Ruth, from Ruth Bailey, artist, left a comment on one of my posts, a while back, and I again have been able to catch that big “click” the moment it happened, this time for my 3400th comment.

I know, it’s been a while coming. Ruth is a great watercolorist and was in the middle of an amazing commission, that busied her until recently.

I am so glad she is back!

Since Ruth is no stranger to home educating, I asked her if there were anything she might like to write for us about art in the home school.

She has graciously provided us with some great tips I really wish I’d had 20 years ago.

Read, enjoy, and learn! And please go look at her gentle but brilliant art

Why Teach Your Child to Draw?

I believe that teaching a child to draw should be a part of every home-school curriculum.

Drawing is well suited to the home-school curriculum since it can be taught inexpensively, in short or long time segments, requires few extra materials, and the skills can be learned by anyone with enough dexterity to write their name.  Drawing uses and develops the brain in ways that reading, writing, math, social studies, and science do not. Drawing uses non-verbal thinking skills and spatial relationships, while encouraging creativity, alternative problem solving strategies, and intuitive responses.  Drawing also aids in teaching math skills since it involves the complex mathematical concepts of angles, measurements, graphing, and ratios.  Drawing gives children and adults another language in which to express themselves and is pleasurable and fulfilling in itself.

Coffee With My Granddaughter

Coffee With My Granddaughter

Typically, young children start learning to draw by experimentation.  They scribble on paper, enjoying the power of making marks.  After a while they begin to assign meaning to scribbles, saying that this mark is “the dog,” or “daddy,” or “a birthday cake.”  As their dexterity increases, they often adopt a symbol system, drawing stick figures, which get more complex as the child gets older.  Sometimes these symbols are mimics of drawings by adults (who insist that their own drawing skills are inadequate).  As children learn verbal language by example, experimentation and encouragement before learning any of the “rules,” they can learn the language of drawing in the same manner.  This means giving them exposure to a variety of materials and time to explore.  Paper and pencils, pens, crayons, markers, simple (non-toxic) paints, cotton swabs and food coloring, glue and bits of colored eggshells, etc. are typical household items that can be used.  If a child expresses frustration or a desire to go further with drawing, I suggest enrolling the child in a class or trying out Mona Brooke’s book Drawing With Children to learn some formal drawing techniques.

Michael's Picture

Sometime around age 10 (fourth or fifth grade), a child’s brain goes through a “growth spurt” with an increased integration across the right and left hemispheres.  This growth often leads to dissatisfaction with the difference between what is observed and the symbols used in drawings.  Some children break through their established symbol system and are able to create realistic drawings at this time with little or no instruction.  These are the children who are labeled “gifted artistically” or “talented.” Unfortunately for the others, this is the time when a child will give up on drawing, frustrated with his inability to make the drawing look like he wants it to, and calling his own efforts “stupid.” However, realistic drawing skills can be taught, and learned (by adults as well as children).  There are many classes available to teach non-drawers to draw, and many books written on the subject.  One of my favorites is Betty Edward’s  The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain.  Although the exercises in this book are not difficult for a child, children in elementary school would be helped by having an adult supervise and explain the material.  Going through the material together is an ideal home-school activity.

With the foundation of being able to draw realistically, a child (or an adult) can then continue the exploration and experimentation process, drawing from reality, memory, or fantasy.

I wish you many satisfying hours, teaching your child to draw, and learning to draw, yourself!

Noah's Ark

Noah’s Ark

Ruth Bailey is a home-school mom who, now that her children have all graduated from high school, fills her days with painting watercolors, sailing on the Chesapeake Bay, and traveling with her husband.

You will love it at Ruth’s! Go there!

And check out one of my favorites of her many posts here!

Is There Life After Homeschool?

English: Motivations regarded most important f...

Motivations regarded most important for homeschooling among parents in 2007. Source: 1.5 Million Homeschooled Students in the United States in 2007 Issue Brief from Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. December 2008. NCES 2009–030

Every summer, it begins again: Some people must check it out — Are we really supposed to be doing this home schooling thing? Really? Are we sure?

There is a reason for that: They worry about their children’s futures. Of course, this is the function of parents, but because home schooling is so “new”, many are unaware of what the future holds.

With that in mind, I submit the following long post. Hope you enjoy it.

I have to say there is definitely a future for your home-educated child. Many predict that is impossible. They don’t understand.

I know, because I have been to the future.

My husband and I, together with what were to become some of our dearest friends, began home schooling about 30 years ago. Can you believe that? I almost cannot. It was nearly unheard of, back then. There were no home-school web sites, no support groups, no magazines, no newsletters, and almost no other people to . . . well, I guess you could say we are antiques.

Some thought we were breaking the law.

Our families would not speak to us.

We did not know where the adventure would go, but we did know where WE would not go. Home schooling cost us in many ways (but not much, monetarily) and we knew we could never throw away such a costly advantage.

That was enough to keep us going, back then.

Now days, though, people are seeing fruit. We’ve been there and done it and some of us have written the books. In some cases, we literally have helped the colleges rewrite their admissions policies to accommodate us. Our children have gone to college, passing CLEP tests, and earning scholarships. I relate this to show that entering college is much easier for home scholars, now, because schools court us.

Yes, in these days of crumbling social skills, the colleges still know how to woo parents.

Does this startle you? It should not.

Think for a moment: The national study that delineates what causes improved learning reads as if someone had been watching our home schools. Everything that home schooling parents do, from start to finish, is in that study. Unknown to us, or to them, ours is the only set of circumstances deliberately designed to enable the teacher to do everything right.

So, of course, our children are set up to succeed.

Then, surprise, surprise: another study, one that investigated who was doing best in college, found that it was not the public, nor the private schools, but home scholars, all grown up, crunching the books.

No wonder people want our kids.

Mention homeschool and you get the job. Have you noticed that? We have. In any imaginable field, what we are speaks so loudly, they do not need to hear what we say. It is the life-style, the diligence, and the discipline, which make us attractive.

People wish they could be like us.

Lacking that, they hope to hire our children. It is as if they are casting a vote for our way of life, by helping our children along. In this wrong, wrong world, they have found something that is dependably right, RIGHT, RIGHT, and they like it. So many people are so glad simply to see a clean, healthy young person who does not have a chip on his shoulder—it just makes their day, gives them hope, eases their worries a little.

It should.

You see, somewhere, deep inside every person, is the witness that the Lord’s ways are altogether good and right. Some people will never acknowledge that, but they cannot help but be glad when they see something they can recognize as good and right, whether they acknowledge it as coming from the Lord or not.

They have seen plenty of the other results, of the world’s ways.

There is not a person on this earth, I hope, who thinks it is good that children are murdered at school. No one thinks that the children should be blowing up the schools. Who, in his right mind would approve of drug dealing in the hallways?

So we agree that we should go on with this home-school idea, although we do not feel like it, maybe. The days come, though, when we don’t think that we can do it, right?

Why not?

Some of us are undisciplined.

I have heard it so often: “I don’t have the patience (organizing skills, energy, time, or whatever) to home school.” We have always answered with, “Neither did we. But we wanted to acquire those skills, and home schooling taught us how.” Actually, though, it was the Lord teaching us new heights of self-discipline. He wants to do that for all of His children.

We need a new perspective on life in general, and on home schooling in particular. If God has given us children, for their sakes we must begin to concentrate on the after effects of our actions with them. We dare not come to the end of our schooldays saying,

“I just did not have my act together.”

Some of us are just tired.

As your children age, guess what—you do too. Bones hurt, and muscles weaken and stiffen. What would you do if you worked in a public school and your joints were bothering you? Would you still get up and go to work? Of course you would. If you did not even care about the children who were depending on you to teach them, you still would think about the principal, school board, and superintendent and their responses.

Well, now your husband is your principal, your support group is your school board, and God is your superintendent. You can go on. Otherwise you must someday say,

“I just grew weary in well-doing.”

Some of us are afraid.

We think we do not have what it takes to teach higher levels. I want to encourage you by saying that although I only made “B’s and C’s” in high school math, I could remember what I had learned, thirty years later, well enough to help my children puzzle out their problems.

The moral is that if you ever learned it, it probably is still “up there” somewhere amongst the clutter of your busy mind.

Actually, what I found, was that from phonics to geometry to history and beyond, I never really learned much in the state institution that I went to, and am just now beginning to appreciate and retain these facts. I never learned to write until after all my formal schooling was over.

Maybe it is just that you learn more when you teach. I know the home school methods have been “officially pronounced” the best for actual learning. You actually, probably do have all you need to teach your older children.  The parts you forgot are about to be remedied—something you have needed for a long time. It will not be good to come to the end of the school journey saying,

“I gave up because I was afraid.”

Some of us truly did not ever study some subjects.

  • Perhaps you were in an institution that emphasized sports or movies, or did not teach.
  • Maybe somehow you escaped or fell through the cracks or quit or just could not grasp it.
  • Perhaps you had or have a learning disability yourself.

Mother, please, please do not think you are excluded or disqualified from the joy of finishing your older children’s education. There are several ways to make it happen:

  1. There are entire courses of lecture available on video or audiotapes. You do not have to know anything except how to pop in a tape.
  2. There are your friends at the support group. Ask and discover who is good in English or math. Realize that they probably would be, and rightfully should be, very glad to support you in your endeavors.
  3. There are the people in your community, who want to cast their vote in your direction, as I was saying. One of my best friends, a college math teacher who has remained childless, delights to answer my questions, although they usually are way below her level of expertise. I try not to wear her out, but if I am stumped (which happens in algebra II) I call her. She loves it so much and we have a good conversation to top it off.

You can find this type of help, too. You dare not send your child back into the same system that failed you. There has to be a better way. Learn with your child. Otherwise, all you can say, at the end, is,

 “I didn’t try hard enough.”

Some of us fear that we will somehow harm our children.

As long as you realize this possibility exists, and as long as you dread it, you are precisely the person who should be teaching your children. People who think they can do no wrong do not approach children with a good sense of dread of error. They are the ones who lead them astray, use them for guinea pigs in psychological experiments, and just plain teach them wrong.

I will not tell you that you will never make a mistake.

I certainly could not tell you that from my own experience.

If you care this much about your child, though, casting him into the public arena is what you must NEVER do. This is nearly guaranteed to harm your child. Keeping him near the life of God in you is what he needs. Even if you make mistakes, he can learn from them, too.

According to Solomon, those who fear harming the children are the ones who should raise them and not any others who could not be able to care as much. Do not plan someday to say,

 “God’s grace was not sufficient.”

I am past fifty years old and (at the time of the original writing) still have two teens to finish schooling. Sure, I am tired, some days. (Who isn’t?)

Yes, I have to look up things or reread the teacher book, some days. (The same for cookbooks.)

Of course, I have to find someone to help me, some days. (With plumbing, with doctoring, and with schooling.)

And, I have, I have made mistakes, missed the mark, some days. (In possibly every aspect of life.)

Nevertheless, there is one thing I do every day—I look into the eyes of my children and see clear-headed humanity looking back at me, not mass-produced confusion. That is life—true life.

It is the life that comes after home school.


Photo credit: Wikipedia.