For the past several years, in our Charlotte Mason preschool at home, art and music have come by-the-way. I've tried to incorporate them into our home to create an atmosphere where beautiful music and art are normal, everyday things to be enjoyed. But, aside from having a deBussy station playing on Pandora over and over again, we are seriously lacking in this area.
I'm looking forward to our first year of formal lessons, so that these areas become a regular part of our days. And, I'm especially excited that my younger sons will get to experience these things as an atmospheric bonus.
For our first year of official homeschooling, I planned out our curriculum based solely on Charlotte Mason's first volume, Home Education. Although this doesn't take into account all of the recommendations that she made in 30+ years of sharing her philosophy, it simplified things for me, and overall, it feels like a rich and thorough feast. You can see the rest of the posts in this series here.
Charlotte Mason Picture Study
"The six-year-old should begin both to express himself and to appreciate, and his appreciation should be well in advance of his power to express what he sees or imagines." Home Education, page 307
"When children have begun regular lessons, (that is, as soon as they are six), this sort of study of pictures should not be left to chance, but they should take one artist after another, term by term, and study quietly some half-dozen reproductions of his work in the course of the term." Home Education, pages 308-309
In this part of Home Education, Charlotte Mason described these intentional picture study lessons. The child is presented with a reproduction of the art, and then looks at it intently. He then tells back, or narrates, what he sees. But, Charlotte Mason said that the ability to narrate is not the important part. The picture can make an impression on his sense of beauty whether or not he's able to communicate it.
In the time I've spent planning our curriculum, my plan for art has changed. I was hoping to study Mary Cassatt and Benjamin West using beautiful books that I tracked down, and printing off pictures from the Internet. But, I changed artists, and my approach.
Picture Study Curriculum
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As much as I wanted to study Benjamin West (because he painted Benjamin Franklin, whom we are also studying, and because of the amazing book Benjamin West and his Cat Grimalkin that I can't wait to read with Miss H), but I decided to move him out of the way in order to study Monet. This seems a little more disjointed, but there is going to be a Monet exhibit at our local museum in the fall. I would love to take my children there and let them have some understanding of his art!
To simplify, I decided to use Simply Charlotte Mason's art portfolios. I had the opportunity to see SCM's resources at a homeschool convention recently, and I realized that they would be perfect for us as we piece together our own curriculum. The art portfolios have beautiful prints inside, as well as an artist biography and "leading thoughts" about each painting.
In Home Education, Charlotte Mason didn't mention composer study. She talked about helping children form the habit of music, by constantly hearing and producing it, But, I wanted to incorporate some kind of composer study, so I chose The Story of the Orchestra to introduce my children to genres, composers, and pieces. This is a beautiful book that Miss H is very excited about. She has pulled it off of the shelf a couple of times already, but we're both practicing self-control by saving it for the fall.
In the future, I'll officially do composer study as Charlotte Mason recommended in other works, but at this point, I am content with simplifying one more thing in our days together.
This brings me to the end of my series on a curriculum pulled straight from Home Education. Once I pace it all out, and inevitably have some changes to make, I'll share another post.
Thank you for sharing all of this! We still have a whole school year left until we start with our first, but I love Charlotte Mason’s philosophy and it was so helpful to have it explained more practically for today!