How to Get Children to Appreciate Great Art or Mamas, Throw out the Lessons

When you first begin picture study with your children, you want to capture their interest right away so that this area of a 'wide and liberal education' becomes dear to their hearts. Some artists' paintings simply aren't as engaging as others. Be very careful in deciding upon the first artists' works. Think about your child's age, gender and interests. When my two older girls were very young, we began with Renoir and Mary Cassatt. I chose a few of Renoir's most well known paintings, but I also hand picked some more obscure ones that I knew would particularly appeal to my daughters at the time. They loved beautiful children, vibrant colors, girls in dresses, music and sisterhood.

When my other two children came along, my daughter and son were quite the adventurers. Sweet children in passive settings held no interest for them so I chose Rubens' Biblical pictures and N.C Wyeth's classic adventure tales .

Now that their interest in art was captured, the following year I felt more free in introducing other artists, always being careful to include a few pictures that would capture their fancy.

Ambleside has a wonderful selection of artists and their pictures. Typically, I use their suggestions as our base but I follow an order that pertains to my own children's interests and ages. I also visit to find even more paintings from the artists that I think will appeal to my children's individual interests. At the end of the term, I show my kids some more pictures from the artist we studied that term. These are the ones that we didn't get to but I thought they might like. Together, we download their favorites and put them on a flash disc, take it to our local store and have each printed for about a quarter each. Then the children get to add them to their personal artist albums.

My sixteen year old has been keeping an artist album for ten years now. She can recognize and tell you the names of approximately 180 works of art and their artists. She cherishes her album and has fond memories of particular paintings, is very opinionated about her favorite and worst artists and what makes a great work of art. She can often determine the author of a painting by noting the style, technique and color scheme. While I think those accomplishments are noteworthy, I am mostly pleased at the simple fact that she CARES. This will give her pleasure for many years to come, broaden her relationships with others and help to reveal another area to worship the Author of all creativity and beauty.

I can't think of a better way to learn to appreciate art. (Thanks to Miss Mason)

Mamas, throw out the lessons.

one step at a time...