“Happy eyes, tired feet!” My son sent a text to me from the Jardin des Tuileries, directly next to the Louvre in Paris. He and his girlfriend had just spent eight hours in the Louvre. I could only imagine their contentment and fatigue. The experience is one I have yet to enjoy.
My son had flown to Europe with an engagement ring in his pocket. His girlfriend, an artist, was attending school in Germany, and during his visit to see her, he watched for just the right moment to propose. Leaving the museum, as they entered the Jardin des Tuileries, they were so tired and happy that they kicked off their shoes and lay in the grass to rest after the hours of basking in the beauty exhibited at the Louvre. When he proposed about twenty minutes later, her reply was, “Yes!”
He had worked three jobs for months, carefully saving for the ring and the ticket to Europe. Apparently, he made the most of the opportunity at that moment to offer her the ring and ask the question that would change both of their lives forever. Since the two of them possessed an intense appreciation for art, the setting was superb.
I thought about the circumstances in his life that led to the when and where of this important event. And as veteran homeschool moms tend to do, I reminisced about his school days at home, and the picture studies we enjoyed came to mind. How challenging it had been for me at first to prepare for those studies! I intensely hoped my feeble efforts would reap fruit in the way my children thought and lived.
Have you noticed there is a difference in believing something is important for your children to learn or experience and in actually seeing that it happens? This was especially true for me in the area of picture and composer studies. It took some time for my timidity to blossom into confidence as I learned alongside my children. I was determined, because I was convinced of the value of these studies.
Thoughts of great minds
Children learn the thoughts of great thinkers of the past and the present by studying what these great minds did with their thoughts, what they wrote, created, painted, sculpted, or composed. Mind connects with mind and thought with thought as a child observes or listens.
What they love and appreciate
Very young children learn to love and appreciate what we parents love and appreciate. They catch on from how we observe and from what we say. They need to see or hear beauty in music, poetry, literature, art, and nature. Their taste for beauty will grow in proportion to what we enjoy and spend time observing or listening to.
Close and deliberate
A child’s appreciation grows, not by just looking casually, but by observing or listening closely and deliberately, searching for details, becoming so familiar that the beauty becomes a part of his nature. My goal wasn’t for my children to become great artists, but for them to have a vibrant love for art; the goal wasn’t for them to become great musicians, but to develop a lifelong love for music.
True education feeds the mind, and ideas are the food for the mind. I didn’t want my children to be given a mental diet of “kids’ meals.” And I’m sure you feel the same way. Philippians 4:8—Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let you mind dwell on these things.
Approve what is excellent
Picture study and composer study help fill your children’s minds with the good, the noble, the true. As Karen Andreola said regarding picture study, “It also provides a treasure store of images for our children that will help defend them against the commercial world’s attempts to dominate their senses.”
Philippians 1:9-—And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ.
Regardless of your philosophy and methodology of education, picture and composer studies will enrich your homeschool and your life. Your children will develop a taste for beauty and an appreciation of music and art. Spend time together observing and listening, creating memories that will last for years to come.
I was convinced of the value. BUT HOW COULD I MAKE IT HAPPEN CONSISTENTLY IN OUR HOMESCHOOL? For a short time I nearly despaired of ever finding a way to realistically incorporate picture and composer studies into every week. I knew whatever I did, it had to be simple, or I wouldn’t stick with it. Finally, I understood a system that worked, and it worked for years and years of homeschooling—all the way through high school for my children.
This simple plan can be found in my post, How to Simplify Picture and Composer Studies. After reading how to successfully make picture and composer studies a reality in your homeschool, you will also find this downloadable resource to be especially helpful, Your Guide to Practical & Thoughtful Picture & Composer Studies.