Charlotte Mason’s well-rounded education included a study of the arts for children, beginning at around age 6 (she suggests little “planned” activity or academics before this age).
But just like everything Charlotte Mason, once you understand the model, the “doing” is quite easy. So easy, in fact, that I think her methods have been brushed off for more complicated studies. The more one studies Mason’s methods, the clearer it is that she understood the value of a whole education, and that her students had a superior academic experience than many of their counterparts.
I’ve pondered lately what I believe is the “miracle” of art. That a man or woman can take a pencil and draw an image so that it becomes almost life-like on paper is nothing short of miraculous. And doesn’t that point expressly to our Creator? Why do some have voices that cause us to be mesmerized? How do some know how to take a simple food and make it magnificent? Compose music? Make even a discarded item lovely?
And even those who feel they have no “gift” for performing art, even they behold it with a measure of awe, and appreciate what tantalizes the senses–this too, makes them artists, and is miraculous.
This is God in us…and worthy of our attention and admiration and cultivation!
Here are the ways Miss Mason suggested to cultivate the natural love of arts she believed was in every child:
Mason suggested studying 1 artist in a 12 week period, viewing at least 6 works of art. She also suggested that the parent need say very little about the picture but that the picture could “talk” itself to the child. A question or two may be helpful to get the child to ponder the work, but a simple familiarity and visual study is sufficient. Having the child draw an illustration of the work draws his powers of attention to detail and was always encouraged.
“We cannot measure the influence that one or another artist has upon the child’s sense of beauty, upon his power of seeing, as in a picture, the common sights of life; he is enriched more than we know in having really looked at even a single picture.”
With the same frequency as above, Mason suggested that the child simply be exposed to classical works of music. Selections playing in the background at home was enough. I’ve always tried to catch free concerts and such to attend when possible. Hearing live, beautiful music can really spark a passion in a child, even at a very early age.
In addition, just having instruments in the home, available for investigation, can spark interest in music. Miss Mason also encouraged singing!
Mason believed children need to be productive with their hands. Clay, needlework, knitting, crocheting, painting, blocks, etc., were suggestions to keep little minds and hands active and creating. Other suggestions might be wood carving, card-making, cooking, and I’m sure you can think of many more!
Poetry, Mason believed, was best received by hearing and not critiquing. So you get a feel for part of the faith she had; that marvelous things are planted in the hearts and souls of children, waiting to grow, and may in fact, grow best when simply left to flourish.
Note: There are lots of places on the web from where you can print famous artist’s works. Here is a great place to find Leonardo da Vinci’s.