If your child was just diagnosed with a learning disability or a special need of any kind, there can be a myriad of feelings, to deal with such as shock, concern, fear, relief, confirmations, anger or sadness, to feeling overwhelmed with further questions-the biggest of which is, “Now what?”…
After receiving a diagnosis, following these next steps can be helpful for you and your child.
Learn all you can about your child’s diagnosis, while recognizing that your child is more than the particular diagnosis or label.
Nobody loves your child more than you or wants to see him succeed and meet his full potential more than you. By learning about your child’s diagnosis and different abilities, you can grow in understanding how to better support him, as you continue to be your child’s fiercest advocate and loudest cheerleader.
Investigate treatment options, such as therapies, interventions, and possible medications.
A great place to start is your child’s pediatrician or the diagnosing professional. You may also want to consider seeking holistic treatments by working with an integrative physician. There are more and more types of therapies available for various disabilities and special needs. Many therapy treatment options exist–from art and music therapy, pet and equine therapy, to behavioral and cognitive therapy, in addition to more “traditional” or standard speech/language, vision, physical and occupational therapies.
Seek support for your child and the family.
You can find parent and children support groups, such as Decoding Dyslexia and Eye to Eye Mentoring, as well as national charitable organizations, such as Scottish Rites, Easter Seals and the ARC that offer parent and family resources, supports, directories, grants/scholarships, etc. Also, non-profit organizations such as Joni and Friends, provide resources, a directory for disability ministries across the country, and family camps.
Talk with your child about his diagnosis and teach him to self-advocate.
Your child needs to understand that his diagnosis does not define him. There are many bright and successful people with disabilities. In fact, it is estimated that 1:5 people have a learning disability. Help your child come to understand what his difficulty or disability is and how it may impact him, but also teach him ways to work around it. Also, help your child recognize the ways he is smart and what are his areas of strength. The book, 8 Great Smarts, by Dr. Kathy Koch is a great resource. Self-advocacy is an important, empowering life-skill. Resources such as The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan by Ben Foss, Yale Center for Creativity and Dyslexia, LDAdvisory, and Understood.org are a few examples of places to find resources to educate your child and teach him how to advocate for himself.
Make a plan for reasonable accommodations for the student and discuss these with your student and other adults/teachers, such as those in your community of faith, coaches, music teachers, and co-op leaders/teachers.
Accommodations level the playing field and help students to take in information or show forth what they know. Some common accommodations are extra time, use of audio books, dictation or oral assessment, or frequent breaks, to name a few. It is a good idea to keep a written record of the educational accommodations you will be providing to your student, in your home school file.
Be encouraged that you are your child’s best teacher, and home education is an excellent individualized educational plan.
While home education, due to its very nature, is an individualized educational plan, for homeschooled students with special needs, drafting a written, student education plan can be wise. True North Homeschool Academy Special Needs Advising and HSLDA’s Special Needs Educational Consultants, hslda.org, can help families with this and provide templates for how to do so. Additionally, their special needs consultants can help make sense of the diagnostic assessment reports and help you the parent-teacher come up with a customized educational plan. Lining up classes, such as those offered through True North Academy, can be a great way to customize your child’s specialized home education.
Faith’s own learning struggles and diagnosis of dyscalculia compelled her compassion for other bright but struggling students. A fifteen year teaching career before she became a homeschool mom included both public and private schools, tutoring, and working as a reading specialist. Her specific area of expertise is the identification and remediation of reading difficulties.
As an extroverted-introvert who is a lifelong learner and an avid reader, her 2008 transition to homeschooling her own two children was a natural one. Faith currently applies her passionate advocacy for special needs students as she speaks at homeschooling conferences across the nation and internationally. She also serves as a Special Needs Consultant for Home School Legal Defense Association in addition to having her own in-home, private practice as an educational diagnostician.
Faith holds the following credentials
B.S. in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from West Virginia University
M.Ed. in Reading from Shenandoah University
certification as a trained dyslexia intervention specialist through the National Institute of Learning Differences (NILD)
certification in Equipping Minds Cognitive Curriculum
Faith’s articles have been published in several national homeschooling magazines, and she has been the guest of several homeschooling podcasts.
What is Classical, Christian education? Does it mean studying history? Reading boring old books? Is it only for SUPER SMART students? Six years ago, God gave me a passion for classical, Christian education, and during that time, I have shared the model with many, many families. The classical, Christian education model is a simple, time-tested model that focuses on training the skills to learn anything, and nurtures the whole person to fulfill their calling as man made in the image of a sovereign God, set apart for His glory, in this life and the next.
Three Attributes of Classical, Christian Education
Three main attributes of classical, Christian education discussed here are skill-based learning, the interrelatedness of all subjects to all other subjects, and the recognition of the value of man, who is made in the image of God for a purpose. There are other attributes of a classical, Christian education model, but these three provide a backbone for it.
Classical education is skill based. These skills are collectively referred to as “The Trivium”, a Latin word meaning three ways. The three ways are three stages of learning and development, each with its own tools: the grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric stages.
The first stage is the grammar stage. It starts at birth, and developmentally extends until around age 11. In this stage students are learning vocabulary, facts and principles of any subject in the world around them in a rote fashion. Their understanding may be very limited at first, but they are becoming familiar with the world they encounter. Students in this stage learn best by exploring, experiencing, observing, repetition, memorization, and dramatization.
The second stage, naturally occurring from around ages 11 – 14, is the dialectic or logic stage. At this point, the student develops a drive to understand and relate one to another all the experiences and facts they have and continue to collect. This stage is characterized as a time of questions, challenging authority, and starting to rely on their own thinking. Students at this stage benefit from learning to ask good questions, reason logically, and debate ideas respectfully.
Finally, around age 14 students who have been trained to think well, will begin to emerge from the dialectic stage into the rhetoric stage. At this point, students can use their knowledge and skills to creatively relate information in new ways while practicing communicating information eloquently and winsomely. To learn new things they will delve back into the grammar and dialectic stages briefly, to learn the facts and process the information, but will be able to efficiently bring that information into a relationship with the other information they know hold, and continue to communicate their ideas.
The stages and tools of the Trivium function like a computer. The grammar stage is input, the dialectic stage is processing, and the rhetorical stage is output. Once a student has the skills from these three areas, they can spend a lifetime processing any and all information they encounter through their own “computer”, a working understanding of the tools of the Trivium.
While it may look like one has to be super smart to do well with a classical, Christian education model, the reverse is actually true: the classical, Christian education model goes with the grain of student development, and is effective at equipping students with the skills they need to learn and understand anything in a faster, easier, and better way.
Developmentally Appropriate Skill Development is Fruitful
Often, in modern education, we see mismatches between assignments and developmental stages that create frustration. Examples would be: asking a first grader to break apart math problems and relate different strategies to the same problem, asking the grade-schooler to invent something meaningful, asking a twelve year old to take a well-reasoned stand on a social justice issue, asking a high school student to memorize a bunch of facts with no need for application.
While there are always exceptions, and students may enter a stage early in an area of gifting, mostly mismatches like these needlessly create frustration and confusion that ultimately can drive students to think either too much of their own abilities, or more often not enough. Teaching the students skills that correspond with their developmental stage, and that are effective for learning, should reduce frustration and create confidence for learning.
An Interrelated World
After planting our roots in the model of the Trivium, classical, Christian education is focused on understanding the inter-relatedness of all subjects. Since we believe that all of heaven and earth was created by one, sovereign God, it comes to make sense that all subjects would be interrelated in some way.
A modern education student might be accustomed to being the center of a paradigm that asks them to learn math, then reading, then bible study, then history, and is interested in their reaction to those individual subject, often independent of all else. In a Christian, classical education the student is removed from the center of the model, and God is rightly reflected as the center of all creation, all knowledge, informing us about all things, and all things reflecting back information on Him.
The classical, Christian model continually asks one to consider how each subject relates to all other subjects. Contemplating how the arts relate to the sciences, or how history relates to literature, will produce insights that studying either discipline alone would not likely produce. Likewise, taking a single topic, for example the topic of water and considering how it is represented in science, art, music, math, or history, and how those representations connect one to another, will deepen understanding of all parts of that analysis.
One may even choose specific concerns to compare and relate: How is water conservation policy at your local river related to artistic freedom? How is popular music related to current events? How is the founding of Rome related to your curriculum decision? How does man relate to God? How does the Old Testament relate to the New Testament? How does a leader today relate to a leader in the past? When you practice finding the connections and relationships between points like this, you will find these questions lead to ideas that lead to other questions, and each will continually reveal layers of understanding about the world around you.
The Value of Man
As Christians we believe that man was created by God, in His image, to glorify Him. The world and everything in it, is to be brought into submission to this purpose. While modern education is focused on science and the material world, classical, Christian education recognizes the physical world as well as the heart, mind, and soul, and that we live in with the tension and promise of a transcendent reality, beyond what our five senses can detect.
While modern education looks for the new, useful, and profitable, classical, Christian education considers what is good, true, and beautiful. While modern education considers man without meaning, nothing more than a primate with skills, a random, chance occurrence in nature, classical, Christian education knows that man is made for a purpose and can grow in wisdom, and virtue in order to further fulfill that purpose.
How does classical, Christian education achieve these lofty, yet abstract goals?
Thankfully, this world has a long history of men and women considering these ideas in thought, word, and deed, and a modern student can join in The Great Conversation by reading classic literature and studying history. The term “The Great Conversation” represents the ongoing process of writers and thinkers referencing, building on, and refining works of their predecessors.
All the tools and skills of the classical, Christian model come together in The Great Conversation, and work together to give one opportunities to refine their discernment of truth, goodness, and beauty, building wisdom and virtue. This is, of course, a lifetime journey, not necessarily a destination we fully arrive at in this life. The constant refining of our reason and understanding, never being left stuck in as a prisoner to our selfish small world, is the true gift of a classical, Christian education.
(Interested in pursuing a Classical Homeschool Education for your child? Check out our course offerings at True North Homeschool Academy.)
The classical, Christian education model uses the stages and skills of the Trivium, a vision for an inter-connected worldview, unified by one, sovereign God, creator of all things, and the knowledge that man is made in the image of God, to glorify Him in this world in the next, in order develop the whole person, able to participate in all this world and the next has to offer. A classical, Christian education is for those who are interested in quality over quantity, timeless versus fleeting, and eternity versus the present moment.
By Natalie Micheel
Natalie lives in South Dakota with her husband and two awesome kids. She has now homeschooled for over 10 years with Christian, classical and literature-based paradigms, including teaching for and leading faith-based homeschool groups locally. She speaks locally on all things classical, Christian ed. She loves sharing the classical model and the hope and joy of homeschooling your own children with the next generation of homeschool mamas! Natalie enjoys speaking and teaching and thinking, as well as reading and writing and dreaming. She finds particular satisfaction in working with tweens and teens and moms to inspire them towards the good, true and beautiful, and walking beside them as they learn to equip themselves to fulfill their callings in this world.
The Liberal Arts Tradition – A Philosophy of Christian Classical Education – by Kevin Clark & Ravi Scott Jain
This is my all-time favorite book on classical education, in fact, before I read this book I did not think of myself as a classical educator. Although I had read other books on classical education and I taught my kids Latin, there was just something I felt was missing from the explanations of classical education. I still don’t go around telling people I am a classical educator although I fit into in the definition provided in this book pretty thoroughly. The big difference is summed up with this quote:
“Education is not merely an intellectual affair, no matter how intellect-centered it must be, because human beings are not merely minds…A full curriculum must cultivate the good of the whole person, soul, and body.”
In The Liberal Arts Tradition, you will be encouraged to feed the soul with music and great stories, the body with exercise and training (referred to as gymnastic) and the mind with subjects such as mathematics and linguistics. You will be introduced to the quadrivium and be led on a beautiful journey that reveals how all of these things work together to nourish and cultivate wisdom.
This balanced approach to nourishing all the parts of our humanity is what was missing when I read other books on classical education. Reading this book explained to me why I did many of the things I did and why I felt so strongly about them even though I could not logically explain my reasons until after I read this book.
I still don’t tell people I am a classical educator, because the term conjures certain images and I still don’t think I fit the box that most people have defined as classical education. However, if judged through the lens of this book, I come pretty close.
The Well-Trained Mind – A Guide to Classical Education at Home – by Susan Wise Bauer & Jesse Wise
This was the first book about classical education and about homeschooling that I ever read, my oldest was still in diapers when I bought this giant and dove into a way of education I had never heard of before. Many of my ideas about what an excellent education looked like were formed during this first encounter with a classical education. The book is full not only of great ideas but also practical advice guiding you on the various steps of the journey.
Since every time I read another book on classical education, I come across a different definition of classical education I will quote here the definition used in The Well-Trained Mind:
“It is language-intensive-not image focused. It demands that students use and understand words, not video images. It is history-intensive, providing students with a comprehensive view of human endeavor from the beginning until now. It trains the mind to analyze and draw conclusions. It demands self-discipline. It produces literate, curious, intelligent students who have a wide range of interests and the ability to follow up on them.”
The authors consider their book to be a handbook written to give you guidance and direct you towards the tools and schedules needed to create such an education. At over 700 pages it is certainly comprehensive and thorough.
The Core – Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Education – by Leigh A. Bortins
I have to say I was surprised at how much I enjoyed reading this book. I didn’t expect it to be very different from the Well-Trained Mind, but although it is coming from a similar framework I felt like I was reading a different story. This book weaves in references to the truth about how the brain learns such as the proven need for repetition. I enjoyed that as I very rarely see how the brain works referenced when I read about educational methods.
Leigh also has a way of taking current culture and weighing it against what we are trying to accomplish with a classical education. This book would be a great read even if you can’t manage to homeschool and just want ideas of how you can foster a classical culture within your own family.
The book takes you on a journey through each subject, talking about what are the most essential concepts and facts to be learned and also pointing out how once they have the grammar, (or facts and vocabulary) of a subject older children will naturally move into dialectic and rhetorical use of the subject.
I also enjoyed the perspective of Leigh as a mother who did not classically train her oldest two children but then did classically train her younger two. She has interesting observations about the differences in her kids who were classically trained but also encouraging remarks for those who don’t start on the journey until their kids are older, as was the case with her older set of boys.
“The purpose of classical education is to strengthen one’s mind, body, and character in order to develop the ability to learn anything.”
“The goal of education is to teach children to become adults who can handle complex ideas, in uncertain situations, with confidence. We feel confident when we can competently manage words and ideas.”
This book made classical education look easy. It sounds simple. Like a back to the basics journey, but without letting go of excellence.
The Latin Centered Curriculum – Home Schooler’s Guide to a Latin-Centered Classical Education – by Andrew Campbell
This book embodies a different definition of classical education.
“Classical Education is a curriculum grounded upon-if not strictly limited to- Greek, Latin and the study of civilization from which they arose.” (Simmons, p. 15)
Other than using Latin and Greek as your most-important spine, this method also considers math to be central.
“Mathematics, along with the classical languages, forms the core of the classical curriculum; math represents the Quadrivium as Latin does the Trivium.”
Andrew adheres to the idea of learning a few subjects thoroughly over learning a little bit about a lot of things. And those few things should be Latin, Greek, and Mathematics. (Later in the book he does mention the importance of music as another daily practice.)
He does not neglect the other subjects and devotes much of the book to details and suggestions of how to treat each subject. The emphasis is on Latin and Greek language, history, and literature, and other things are included with this in mind. For example, there are not as many English literature readings suggested at each age as you will find in other books. However, I found this helpful as many lists simply contain more material than it is practical to cover in a year.
One of the reasons for the limited focus of subjects is to ensure the child plenty of time for free reading, being read to, and the pursuit of the arts. He includes suggested lists of what should be read aloud to children of different ages and these are also refreshingly short.
If you are overwhelmed by long lists this book will give you a good view of what can be accomplished without long lists!
Reading these books may at first seem confusing because not everyone agrees on the details and definition of classical education. Perhaps that is how it should be, after all, anyone interested in classical education wants to have interesting conversations and arguments. Also, classical education is a bit too rich of a philosophy to constrict itself to one exact formula. The lofty goals of a classical education cannot be reduced to one neat formula. But there are many patterns that we can use as a framework for the education we will build in our own homes.
Reading the above books will give a deep and rich picture of what it means to be a classical educator and how you can weave it into your home. Some think classical education is burdensome and overly demanding. But the pictures I see painted before me when I read these books are full of both time to explore and to master the subjects which will enrich and guide our children throughout their lives. This matches my own experience.
Many people think I am crazy if I list off all the things my kids do in a day. They envision children stuck at a desk all day. Yet my kids have plenty of free time. We relax while we learn. They are developing as unique, confident persons. They enjoy a good video game daily, on top of the long list of everything else they accomplish.
It may sound complicated and overwhelming and it is easy to build a schedule and list of must do’s that is overwhelming. But a classical education can be simple, restful, and freeing. It is up to us to dig deep, look at all the beautiful suggestions spread before us, and throw out enough of those suggestions so that the design of our lives is not so crowded that it is ugly. Beauty needs room to breathe.
Marla Szwast lives in Marietta, Georgia with her husband and six children. She is a life-time homeschooler. She has written articles for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. She is the author of Stepping Through History: Starting With You!, and a semester-long fifth-grade science course. Both courses are published online at the Schoolhouse Teachers membership website. She writes about homeschooling, child development, neuroscience, and the history of education on her blog at www.jumpintogenius.com, you can also follow her on Facebook @jumpintogenius, or Twitter @MarlaSzwast, or Medium. She is also a homeschool product reviewer, and yes, you will find reviews where she does not recommend the product!
This is a question your children may ask when they are faced with a play written in English they struggle to understand. Yes, it will require effort to read Shakespeare’s plays – and poetry – but it is a very rewarding experience.
Shakespeare was a master storyteller and that alone is a good reason to read his plays. This is why there are so many modern retellings of his stories.
He also covers universal themes that touch everyone’s lives – love and jealously, hunger for power, loyalty, guilt etc. Although the plays were written 400 years ago, these are topics teens can identify with.
So many books and movies draw their inspiration from Shakespeare and knowing the original plays helps us enjoy a richer experience as we read books influenced by him.
Your children may never know how many common phrases originate from Shakespeare! “All the glitters isn’t gold” (Merchant of Venice), “green eyed monster (Othello), “wild goose chase” (Romeo and Juliet) and “you’ve got to be cruel to be kind” (Hamlet) are just a few. You can find more here.
If you are now convinced you should be adding Shakespeare to what your teens are reading, here are 7 tips on how to enjoy Shakespeare with your teen.
Provide context for the time Shakespeare lived
To understand Shakespeare’s plays, students need to understand the time Shakespeare lived, how theatre was performed then (only male actors for instance) and who went to the theater.
A fun way to do this would be to read a book like The Shakespeare Stealer (aimed at middle school students so it will be a quick read for high schoolers) or watch a movie or documentary (we watched and enjoyed In Search of Shakespeare)
You could also challenge your child to do the research and then create a poster, or video or infographic or slideshow to explain what they have learned.
Provide context for the specific play you will study
Be sure your students understand the type of play it is: tragedy, history or comedy.
Study the setting, and if relevant, the history that is depicted in the play. If your children understand the background to what they are reading, it will help them understand what is happening in the play.
You can easily find help if you do a quick internet search on whatever you are studying.
Choose a good version of the play
The versions that I think are most helpful have the play on the right-hand side, with notes on the left. You don’t want ones that have the full play in modern English on the left as students will just be lazy and read the modern English instead of the original.
And I find it is easier to just look to the left when you are reading and don’t understand something than to look at footnotes below.
So, if possible, go into a bookstore and look at the different options.
Read the play aloud
Remember Shakespeare’s plays were written to be watched and heard. If you have a few children studying Shakespeare together, it is fun to take different parts, but even if it is just two of you, reading it aloud together will help to make sense of the words.
Watch the play performed
If you can select a play that is being performed near you, that would work really well. But if you can’t catch a live performance, at least find the best film version to watch. All the ones with Kenneth Brannagh in them are great!
Be sure you have already read the play BEFORE you watch it. Knowing the basic storyline will mean you and your children can focus on things you may have missed. And of course, watching the action as well as reading the words, will add an extra layer of meaning to the play.
In addition, you could watch a modernized version of the play (eg “West Side Story” when you study Romeo and Juliet) and discuss the differences between the original and the adaptation.
Discuss the themes of the play
There is plenty to discuss in any Shakespeare play. Once you are sure your teen has understood the content of the play, it is time to go a little deeper. I highly recommend Brightest Heaven of Invention by Peter J. Leithart if you are studying any of the 6 plays he analyzes. This book also contains discussion questions.
It would be great to have discussions with a few teens at a time, but even if it is just you and your teen, it will be valuable.
After you have explored various themes together, your high schooler should be ready to tackle a short paper on a theme of their choosing that you didn’t cover in detail.
Play Shakespeare games!
Playing games always helps make learning fun and there are plenty of options to choose from. Brainbox – Shakespeare will get your children learning quotations from Shakespeare, The Play’s the Thing will get students more familiar with 3 of his plays and Top Trumps Shakespeare’s Plays introduce students to many characters in the plays.
Or you can buy playing cards with Shakespearean quotes or insults on them!
I hope these 7 tips will help make Shakespeare more accessible to your teen and you will have fun studying some of his works.
(Are you looking for a great way to study Shakespeare in your homeschool? Check out our live, online poetry class at True North Homeschool Academy. This summer class is shorter, cost-effective, and takes the stress out of teaching Shakespeare in your homeschool.)
Meryl van der Merwe homeschooled her 4 children and during that time started teaching at the local homeschool co-op. She still teaches there – as well as online at FundaFunda Academy. In addition, she coaches homeschool Science Olympiad and Quiz Bowl teams. She believes education should be engaging, relevant and challenging. Meryl hosts the Homeschooling with Technology podcast where she shares tips on how to integrate tech in your homeschool. In her spare time, she loves reading and traveling. Follow her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram,
(The following is a guest post from Marlin Detweiler, president and founder of Veritas Press.)
One of the most overlooked educational opportunities for the homeschool parent is integration. Let’s pause to be clear. We’re not talking about racial integration. We’re talking about integrating disciplines and content.
We come by the problem of not integrating—if it is one—as part of the DNA of the education we got. We were taught math in math class, literature in English and spelling in spelling. I went to a public (government) school all my life. Even in my elementary years when the teacher was the same for all classes, I don’t believe integration was an intentional part of my education.
From our earliest exposure to classical education in 1992, we have valued the idea of integration of content and concepts.
There are several reasons. Scripture teaches, “For in Him we live, and move, and have our being” Acts 17:28a. All things come to in Christ. The medieval educator understood theology— meaning that which is from the Scriptures—to be the queen of the sciences. By that they meant that theology was the overarching standard. It connected all other knowledge, informed all other knowledge and controlled all other knowledge. It was the integration point.
Today we see wonderful attempts to integrate in the education of many children. Here are a few to stimulate your imagination:
The study of history with the study of the Bible
Students learn to appreciate what was happening elsewhere during the Exodus or King David’s reign or the building of the pyramids. The list could go one.
Science and history; or
Math and history
Scientific developments had great impact on history—remember Copernicus? Ever considered how the Golden Mean has affected architecture?
Literature and writing
Learning to write by modeling the writing of others is not new to many of us.
Any content subject and writing
Using writing assignments to develop student writing and their mastery of Bible, history, science, math, etc. is a tremendous integration technique.
History and historical fiction literature
Helps make history come alive and stimulates imaginations.
History/philosophy and art
Knowing the time period, connecting it to the art of the day can help build an appreciation for the philosophy and thought of the day.
Geography and history
It’s amazing how geography impacts history.
Logic and…you name it
Always, always, always bring logic into a discussion of any subject for students who are studying it.
Much of this may seem common sense. I hope so because much of it is. That’s not typically why more integration doesn’t happen. Most often it’s because of a lack of intent and planning. Good integration requires good planning.
There’s another great benefit to good integration. Efficiency. Good integration will save you time—lots of it.
Do yourself a favor and take some time today thinking about how you can prepare lessons that take advantage of integration opportunities. You’ll be amazed at all the benefits.
Marlin has been a leader in the effort to recover classical education from a Christian worldview since 1992. Together with his wife, Laurie, he was instrumental in the foundation of three classical schools: Veritas Scholars Academy an online school based in Lancaster, PA (2006); Veritas Academy, Leola, PA (1996); and The Geneva School, Orlando, FL (1992).
He serves as the president and founder of Veritas Press which provides classical educational materials worldwide for homeschools and Christian schools and operates Veritas Scholars Academy, an online school with more than 10,000 students. He has spoken in dozens of cities on classical education in both school and conference settings. He served on the National Board of the Association of Classical and Christian Schools as a founding board member for 22 years and served as its initial chairman for two years.
Marlin has written, edited, published and participated in the creative process for many of the leading curricular works serving the classical education communities. He has a B.A. in Business Management from North Carolina State University where he played on the university golf team.
He and his wife Laurie were blessed to be raised by Christian parents and have raised four Christian sons; Jameson, Brandon, Travis and Parker. They are further blessed with three daughters-in law and four grandchildren.
(The following is a guest post from Penny Mayes, curriculum creator at Take TIme for Art.)
How do you integrate art into your classical homeschool? For some of us the answer is not very often or in spurts and starts. I know, it’s frustrating, and the truth is it shouldn’t be that hard. But what’s a mom to do when you are trying to cover all the bases, give your child a strong classical education in the basics, and generally managing life? Trying to teach art and art history much less integrate it into your classical unit studies is just not a priority. But what if it should be a priority and what if there was an easier way?
First, should art be a priority in your classical homeschool? And if so, why? To answer that question let’s go to the Bible to visit a couple of artists. The first artist is of course, God. And to see God’s handiwork, we go to the place where He creates His masterpiece. We go to Genesis.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” Genesis 1:1-2.
When we talk about art we need to start at the beginning and recognize that the source of all creativity comes from God. He is the Master Designer and the Creator of our world and our being. We can’t even begin to compete with God, but we can learn from Him as we study His creation and his beauty.
And that is exactly what happened with our second artist. When God designed His dwelling place among the Israelites in the desert, He chose a special guy to build it.
“Then the Lord said to Moses, “See, I have chosen Bezalel, son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts.” Exodus 31: 1-5.
Never imagine that God doesn’t have a plan for you. He really does cause everything to work together for good for those that love Him and are called according to His purposes. And that is just what happened in the life of a former slave who used to work for Pharaoh’s glory, but now worked for God’ glory.
Created to Be Creators
The truth is, we are all created in God’s image and made to be creators, just as Bezalel was a creator. We all have this need to make, to create, to improve, and to subdue our world. It is built into us as image bears of God. And we need to figure out how to do it for God’s glory. That is what training your child in classical integrated arts education is all about.
Integrate Art with History
But how do you do this? In my opinion, one of the best ways to do this is to integrate art with your history curriculum. By studying the art history of a time period you get to put a picture and a face on a culture of people. And you get to contrast the beliefs of that people group with Biblical truth. Art always reflects the beliefs of a culture. By looking at their art, you can bring in Biblical truth and a Christian worldview.
Then based on what you’ve studied, hands-on projects in art should follow. When you study Ancient Egypt, the tomb art, the stories, and the history, you should make something fantastic like an Egyptian mummy mask, a sculpture of a piece of tomb art, or a tomb painting. And you can talk about how when we create we do it for God’s glory. Seem a bit overwhelming? Let me make it even easier.
Let Me Help you do the Heavy Lifting
At Take Time for Art we integrate history with art history through our streaming video curriculum. We do it with a Christian worldview, and encourage each of our students to create for God’s glory. And we have wonderful hands-on projects taught step-by-step in our videos. Check us out at taketimeforart.com. We even have wonderful art materials packs that make your life even easier. Check out our videos on Vimeo.
Making art happen in your classical homeschool doesn’t have to be that hard. Let us help you do easily and successfully. And let us help you bring a lot of fun into your homeschool too!
(Are you interested in an amazing classical education for your homeschool student? Then be sure to check out our classical courses at True North Homeschool Academy.)
Penny Mayes is a veteran homeschool mom of 20 years and art teacher. She creates integrated curriculum for homeschoolers at Take Time for Art. Her goal is to make art easy to use, fun, and integrated with your history unit studies. And she teaches from a Christian worldview. For more information, visit her at taketimeforart.com.
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