Thursday, February 20

Dali and the flow... of learning

In my zest for teaching and her enthusiasm for learning, I have amassed a pile of research, unit study ideas, resources, printables, book lists, and websites.

Miss 5 is enthusiastic when I suggest a unit study and thoroughly enjoys doing my little note/lapbook type activities. She has also initiated a unit study - all about Spain. All well and good, it's working for us. But we are still in our early Home Ed days, so adaptability is part of the journey.

I had been putting an art unit together - Spanish artists to work along the whole Spain thread. Yet something about learning about fine art put me off. I can't explain what my thoughts were exactly, it was more intuitive.

Despite being an artist and my adoration of all sorts of fine art, as well as the techniques and talking about art, art history was never a subject I enjoyed. It's one of those teaching areas that easily kills the bliss of a topic. Not that I was going to 'teach' her anything so intense! But that experience probably coloured my feelings on this.

What I've decided is to take a big step back from unit studies (keeping in mind that my units are simple, short, loose, and flexible anyway) and go along a different route, which I'm calling Exposure Method. I'm sure some expert out there does this, but I'm not one to read too much about such things, so I just stumble onto ideas and that's how I roll.

So rather than studying Picasso, Dali and Gaudi... and Mozart... (and I do mean in a light and fun way) I simply expose her to their worlds. It's really what I had done already with Mozart. Over the past year I had bought her CDs, we heard symphonies online, and she had watched snippets of operas. I had been considering doing a unit study on Mozart but have now gone back to what I had done intuitively.

So we have books on the artists, their lives and their work (including children's versions), and we'll be watching the full 3hr The Magic Flute soon (in parts!). Last night we sat together and looked at Dali's works and chatted lightly about the weird and wonderful images. This morning she picked up the huge Dali book of her own accord and flicked through half of it.

Reading about their lives is very interesting, especially parts about their childhood for children. Yet I have seen unit studies online where children do lap/note books on the artist/composer. I'm just not convinced that colouring an image of Mozart or playing a game on his life timeline adds anything truly meaningful.

That she walks around humming Eine kleine Nachtmusik simply because she's been exposed to it and she loves it, is what matters to me.

That's it, that's all a child needs really. To be exposed to, and have access to, the rich imagery and sounds of culture. It's then their choice if they want to pursue the interest.

I'll suggest unit studies and so will she, in the future, but I'll be more mindful of how much joy in the topic they will instill.


  1. When I was in college, I found my favorite way to learn about history was through art. But for a young child, I believe you are right on track. I always loved art and learning about artists as a kid, but when I was invited to take an advanced placement art history course in the 9th grade, I turned it down.

  2. I have struggle with this too from time to time. I worry that my children are not doing written work or making books but I am really good at exposure and I have found that this is what they respond to best. When they want to take it further they can and do so by themselves or with some help if that is what they want. The written work can wait for another day.....


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