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  1. #1

    Default art? (for a kid who hates art)

    Okay, so my next question is, generally - what do people do for homeschool art?

    Specifically, my son hates anything that even smells of art. He does not feel like he's a "good" artist (even though we've always emphasized process over results and praised effort, etc) - he's his own worst critic. When he's faced with an art assignment, he turns into a big ball of anxiety. I'd love to totally drop it for the coming year, but I worry that he'll struggle even more returning to public school in the future if I don't gently push him out of his no-art comfort zone at least occasionally. I don't necessarily need a full weekly art curriculum, but I feel like I do need to encourage him to stretch into artistic work sometimes.

    What have people done to cover art, in general? And, if anyone else has an art-resistant kiddo, what have you done that's been a success? I'm all ears!


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  3. #2


    I am probably going to sound like a broken record in my responses, but I just provide a heap of options/resources and the kids pick what they want to do based on interest.

    We have an art cupboard that has all sorts of the usual art materials plus scrap stuff from round the house (like fabric scraps from my sewing, broken items, and toilet paper rolls), pus mats for working on (ours are cutoffs from some roller blinds that were quite a plastic material that I had to cut down in size), and aprons for protecting clothes. The kids know they can get out whatever they like when they like and do any sort of arty, crafty, constructing project, and I know they have all the stuff they need without needing to bug me for finding things and that they have what they need to keep themselves and the dining table relatively clean.

    Then we also have some art books for inspiring ideas about projects. The one I like the most is Modern Art Adventures by Maja Pitamic. Plus I pick up books from the library about art to supplement the ones we own, and if they are into them, they use them, if they are not, they don't. I grabbed one recently about pencil drawing that I thought looked fun but neither of them liked. Then one I got last week about watercolour painting, they have both loved and spent about 2 hours doing art inspired by it this afternoon.

    On top of that we do art on the side of other topics. Social studies about Japan = grab some books about origami. DD11 then spent about half a year solely doing origami for school art from library books and Youtube videos. She followed this up with Kawaii drawing. Generally, any topic that we are studying, I try to go out from that to see what art or famous artists we can explore connected to that topic (we also do this with food, language, music...).

    We also do the odd art unit study about something specific in our year or life that we come across. But mostly art is free range, interest-based or branched off other main unit studies/topics rather than being a thing on its own.

    We visit the art gallery (maybe a few times a year; the kids would like to go more often, I struggle to fit it all in). Bravewriter has a writing project (in Jot it Down I think) about visiting the art gallery and has some ideas for making it fun (like finding pictures with a specific colour in them or buying some postcards in the art gallery shop first and then finding those pieces in the gallery) and my kids liked that.

    I subscribe to a newsletter from Art History Kids and they often have lots of free ideas/resources that they send out (we have not done any of their paid classes).

    This year we also got a cheap group price to do a course through Carla Sonheim with a homeschool co-op. It is a little bit like cookie cutter art but also creative and both DD11 and I have enjoyed it. DD11 is very much a perfectionist and has anxiety issues, so she used to typically over react and give up if things did not turn out the way she imagined. Going step by step through this Carla Sonheim course (the one we are doing is Stained Glass Trees) has allowed her to see that art is more fluid and messy and can be changed and built up over time than being something where someone produces a neat, final product right on the first go.

    Art is not something that is done with regularity in our house or super frequently. It probably averages out to one a week or once a fortnight, but the amount they get done is much more relevant (to them) and of a higher quality learning experience than what they did in school.

    Edited to add: the watercolour book we have out from the library at the moment is Paint Yourself Calm. Thought I would add it here as it is really just about finding the joy of putting colour on paper and not about any sort of product or result, which is why my kids love it. So it could be good for someone who is art resistant.
    Last edited by NZ_Mama; 06-18-2020 at 05:53 AM.
    NZ homeschoolers (school year runs start Feb to mid Dec).
    DD 12 (year 7) and DD 7 (year 2).
    Fourth year homeschooling.
    Part-time freelance science copyeditor.

  4. #3


    Does he have to create something to call it art. How about taking the approach of art appreciation. Pick an artist, or a medium, and explore. (When available) go to art museums. Before reading anything on the work, try to decide what the artist was trying to convey. Explore a single work in depth.....find all the small details that are not obvious on a first look. Then maybe research/read a bit about the art and his/her time. Were there major political events going on to inspire the artwork? For example, Picasso's painting Guernica about the effects of WW2. This could also be combining with a writing assignment, or journaling.

    I stress to let your child make his own conclusions before finding out more. We all interpret art differently.

    ETA: I'm not sure where you live, but you could start local. Is there any public art in your town? Even street art (or as others call it, graffiti) often has a message.
    Last edited by inmom; 06-18-2020 at 07:37 AM.

    Homeschooled two kids for 11 years, now trying to pay it forward

    Daughter -- a University of Iowa graduate: BA in English with Creative Writing, BA in Journalism, and a minor in Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies

    Son -- a Purdue University graduate: BS in Computer Science, minor in math, geology, anthropology, and history

  5. #4


    Ooooh, fine motor skills and art!

    I had never learned how to draw, and hated that my older son was headed for the same “not gonna even try” attitude towards it. I had tried a zillion “teach your kid art” books, and gave up on all of them within a week. Usually it was because they started way too steep - “So to start, lets draw your face!” or something ridiculously (to my mind, maybe his too) complex, that I had no idea how to even begin.
    Then, in 2018, I tried Mark Kistler’s book, How to Learn to Draw in 30 Days

    We both liked it. It started simply (with circles), and everything was “outline based” which we were both able to wrap our heads around. Kistler has youtube videos for the first third or so lessons, which arent the best because he is a little long-winded, but it did help to format in my mind how the sessions went.
    Having the early successes (of drawing cool things successfully) really helped build my confidence. Not sure about DS, because he hasnt pursued drawing any further. Ive gone on to “Drawing for the Absolute and Utter Beginner”, and probably got about 1/4 the way through it before I set it down. (Dont know why I stoppped.)

    My youngest often does those “shape by shape” drawings in his OT. He has trouble with scaling properly (and straight lines), so he doesnt particularly enjoy it. Luckily he’s still young enough that he doesnt demand perfection from his drawings, so isnt discouraged. The Kistler approach definitely avoids that, with everything in the early lessons coming from your imagination, and not being organic shapes.

    If you really want him to try drawing, or painting, do it alongside him. Youd be modeling that you can learn things too, that it takes just as much work for you as him, and that everyones early attempts dont get put into museums.The Kistler book, although it had some problems (Thats not what a tree looks like!), it gave me the confidence to try more things.

    Good luck!
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.


    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

  6. #5


    Thanks for all the ideas, NZ_Mama! I'm going to look into the books you recommended - I could probably use a session or two with something called "Paint Yourself Calm!" Modern Art Adventures also sounds like a good one to look over. I'll see if my local library has them, once they reopen.

    We have tons of art supplies that sit untouched because the idea of art gives my son hives. It's always been available to him, and he never wants to touch any of it. The last time he actively chose to pick up a paintbrush without it being an assignment was when he was a toddler - and he painted nearly his entire body pink, but got nothing on the paper set up for him that time. (That was 9 years ago. Oy.) It's worth seeing if that watercolor book can give him a little inspiration to try again.

  7. #6


    Ooh, art appreciation might be a way into art and I hadn't thought of that. Thanks, inmom. He hasn't yet been much interested in art museums, but if he knows that a visit to one would let him skip MAKING art, he just might go for it! I can talk that over with him and maybe do some art appreciation later in the year, assuming NYC's museums will be accessible/safe at that point.

  8. #7


    Yep, fine motor issues and art. Not a great combination for my kiddo, clearly. Thanks for the suggestion, alexsmom, I'll look into Kistler's How to Learn to Draw in 30 Days. Anything's worth a try, if it gets my son to lower his resistance!

    I actually ended up doing all his art assignments alongside him as he did school at home this spring. He was skipping over all artwork (and lying to say that it was done - ugh), until I got an email from the art teacher that he was getting a zero for the final trimester. We sat down together and worked our way through every assignment side-by-side before the school year ended. It helped him calm down a bit to have me beside him, and yes, it was a good opportunity to model that everyone can learn new things, everyone makes mistakes, things don't have to be perfect, good enough is just fine, etc. (Though he remains his own harshest critic.)

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