Arts Homeschool Subject

Choosing PROCESS Over PRODUCT

With Easter fast upon us, I’m certain that cotton ball sales are on the rise.  How many cotton ball lambs will be glued in haste by little hands and presented with pride to grandparents and Sunday School teachers?  But that’s the nature of so many holidays.  They invite us to tear open the bag of pipe cleaners…unpack all the glitter…crank up the hot glue gun and encourage our kids to create a hodgepodge assortment of handprint angel ornaments at Christmas, coffee filter lilies at Easter, and newspaper Pilgrim hats at Thanksgiving.  But what of the other days?  The normal, run-of-the-mill homeschool days?Perhaps my son can best answer that question.  Every Wednesday, he sits eagerly at the school table…leg twitching…eyes widened…arms outstretched hoping to be the first one to grab a crisp, blank sheet of art paper as I tear it from the tablet.

To him, each pristine page is an awaiting masterpiece with endless possibilities.  A chance to get lost in his own creative ambitions.  There are no RIGHT or WRONG answers.  No formulas to follow.  No set of pre-determined directions.  Just imagination and inspiration and a chance to SUCCEED.

Although he is almost always game to make a cute craft project to adorn our holiday table, he much prefers Wednesdays with its homespun ART class.  And this homeschooling momma couldn’t be happier!

At the risk of sounding too impassioned, the GREAT DEBATE over art vs. craft is quite similar to one that every homeschooling mom is familiar with…public school vs. home education.  So many of us, have chosen this educational path because by its very nature, it is individualized.  Homeschooling affords a child the chance to learn at his/her own pace.  There are no RIGHT or WRONG ways to learn.  No formulas to follow.  No set of pre-determined directions.  Homeschooling is about the PROCESS of learning and developing that PROCESS so that it extends for one’s lifetime.  On the contrary, many feel that public schools have become institutionalized…mimicking factories that pour out  cookie-cutter PRODUCTS.  Children are not given a chance to learn what interests them or what would nurture their God-given gifts and talents.

Knowing this, as a homeschool mom, why wouldn’t I choose to teach ART over CRAFT…PROCESS over PRODUCT?  Now don’t get me wrong.  Craft projects certainly have their place in the home.  Who doesn’t love a popsicle stick bird house hanging on the front porch?  But, if you are looking for an enterprise to allow for independent expression of talents, the mastery of a set of artistic skills, and growth in cognitive reasoning, ART…or better yet, the PROCESS of art is the natural choice.

 

Unlike craft projects that come with a set of directions and a patterned outcome, art is open-ended with a wide variety of results.  Craft projects often require much parental set-up, supervision, and involvement, but once a child is taught a certain art skill, he can create any number of masterpieces ALL BY HIMSELF.  Very little thinking happens while completing a craft project because the steps are pre-determined.  Art, on the other hand, breeds decision-making.  The child gets to choose what he will make and how he will make it.  Since fifty kids could complete the exact same craft project only to find that all of their work looks exactly the same, they have very little ownership in their product.  But, producing a piece of art…no matter how primitive looking…provides a sense of accomplishment.

In homeschool art time, you have the opportunity to turn creative expression into education.  Not only can a child learn many artistic skills, he/she can master a wide-variety of mediums and tools, build an exceptional vocabulary (foreground, background, composition, hue, monochromatic, etc.), and even learn world history with a look at famous artists and the external happenings that influenced their art.

 

Granted, most of the masterpieces completed by my children have not been gallery worthy.  But, in focusing on the PROCESS of creative expression instead of the PRODUCT of a pre-prescribed outcome, they are gaining valuable skills to use for a lifetime…not just during the holiday season.

For inspiration or to find some great art tutorials, be sure to check out the following jam-packed Pinterest boards from other homeschooling mommas who have chosen PROCESS over PRODUCT.

Art Ideas by Jamie of The Unlikely Homeschool

Art Ideas by Barb of Harmony Art Mom

Free Art Tutorials by Tricia of Hodge Podge

Fine Arts by the many moms of Curriculum Choice

Work of Art by Stephanie of Harrington Harmonies

About the author

Jamie E

Formerly an elementary school teacher, Jamie left the school desk to bring the learning home in 2006. She is the doting wife to “Mr. Right” and blessed momma of five gifts. After some simple trial-and-error, she found herself homeschooling with an eclectic, Charlotte Mason-esque approach. Somewhere between diapers and division flashcards, she finds time to write and speak about parenting, organization, and homeschooling.

11 Comments

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  • Yes! You’re so right!! We actually do Science every Thursday and right now we’re studying about a different group each week of VERTEBRATES, so the kids get to paint a picture of any vertebrate they choose. They love this creative time!

  • Why does it have to be one or the other? We do arts and crafts in our homeschool. At art time (and most all free time) my girls are freely expressing their creativity with markers, crayons, and paints. But I love teaching them crafts too. They spool knit during read aloud time. I am beginning to teach them cross stitching with our Little House in the Big Woods unit. My kids prefer art, but I think crafts are a great, and still fun, discipline that’s important for young girls and boys.

  • Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!! I am so HAPPY to have come across this today, as it is EXACTLY what I have been looking for! We have been/will be soon “formally” Homeschooling our four year old daughter, and this post spoke to exactly what I have been thinking! You put into perfect context, it really is that simple! My daughter loves our art/craft time, but in addition to my desire to show her more, she has been getting tired of the time involved for set-up, instruction, etc., all that you mention. This is great, and I can’t wait to check out the links/boards that you shared! Thank you again!

  • This is so true. When I taught in the public schools I noticed that teachers wanted their “projects by the kids” perfect. But not my kids – I let them find their own way – experiment, make mistakes but they learned and felt good about doing it all by themselves.
    Creativity does not grow from dittos – or follow this exactly. Unless you are teaching instructions or listening lessons let all children be creative.
    Thanks for this post,
    Blessings,
    Janis

  • I so like this theory. I like to do craft stuff but I hate most *kids* crafts. I do like the idea of teaching them real fine art techniques and stuff earlier on.
    Two of the pinterest boards you linked to wont open. Pinterest shows a 404 page for them. Can you check and make sure they work, cause I tried several times with both and couldn’t get either. I am interested in seeing what they have to pin. The Art Work by Stephanie of Harrington Harmonies and the
    Fine Arts by the many moms of Curriculum Choice are the nonworking ones.
    Thanks!

  • What a great post!! I like a craft every now and then but I often think about this every Sunday that my children come to me with some coloring page or craft that I couldn’t tell apart from anyone else in the class. Or when I ask my child what they made and they say “Oh I don’t know, the teacher just told me to glue these on” lol

  • I definitely think they both have a place. I think crafts are great of cementing learning in other areas and more artsy things are good for the process. Also, having a starting place isn’t bad either. I am an avid paper crafter (scrapbooks, cards, etc). And even if I start with a sketch as inspiration, there is a lot of individuality in what I create. It isn’t like I am just copying someone else’s work with no creativity. There are many kids crafts that can be that way too. So even if it is called a craft, it might be more process than product as well.

  • It is so true what you write but, many parents and teachers cannot move away from the typical, copycat crafts. There is a way to deal with that. for parents that NEED those crafts. For example: If the project is to be a winter snowman picture. The adult can prepare all of the materials like white circles, orange triangles for the nose, cotton balls etc and then let the children create according to their age. This way it sort of looks like a winter picture but, the children still get to think and be creative with their art.I think a lot of the problem with parents that can’t let go is that they don’t understand how damaging copycat crafts are to kids self esteem and thinking skills.

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