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Principles of Teaching Fine Arts and Foreign Languages


Historically, the Fine Arts included painting, sculpture, architecture, music and poetry, plus drama and dancing. Lesser arts include book printing, jewelry and clothing design, quilting and home decorating. Computer design, both commercial and artistic, have revolutionized print (or electronic) media, audio and visual productions. Musical creations can be produced without a single “real” instrument or voice, just a person with computer, keyboard and music software.

Fine Arts, being electives, may not be taught at all in homeschool. Coloring papers or paste and glitter craft projects don’t count. Real art instruction should include more. Children need to learn to draw. Drawing should include basic shapes, perspective, proportion. Teach primary and secondary colors, blending, use of charcoal, pastels, watercolor. Crayons and colored pencils are also a good media as long as children learn how to shade and blend colors.

Teach hand and machine sewing, knitting, crocheting, needlework if you can. Use fabric paints to put Scripture verses and biblical designs on clothing and wall decorations. Working the Scriptures into your projects reinforces memorization. In one church women had quilted banners with Scripture and Christian elements, which was a wonderful ministry opportunity.

We cover Music as a separate curriculum area but it is frequently related to Drama, Poetry and Speech. Memorize poems or play passages and perform them for family gatherings or homeschool groups. If there are several students production chores can be divided up. A sound effects person gets music clips, rice in a tin pan and pair of shoes, a deerspotter spotlight operator, a costume designer, and a set builder, as well as performers. These need not be difficult or complicated, and give an outlet to different talents and ability levels.

A computer opens up worlds of artistic expression and parents should realize the relative simplicity with which their child could create a digital portfolio of his schoolworks or a favorite subject, a slideshow or video clips, captions and titles, recorded narration, music background, and, by the way, a fine arts elective class. Almost every computer includes some type of movie making or slide show creations software with fun effects and a few music background choices.

Many Christians do not believe any kind of dance instruction is appropriate, but we do know homeschoolers who have had their children take ballet. Folk or Square dancing are often considered acceptable. We have seen a performance by a Christian who studied interpretative dance and used it in a church service with Christian music. The Bible does talk about Miriam and David dancing before the Lord. Dance instruction can be physical education and also training in the arts. Parents have to decide how to obey the Scriptures in this matter. Great caution must be exercised to avoid situations where other Christians would consider it wrong. Also, a teacher might introduce elements of dance clearly sensual or suggestive or music that is not appropriate for your child to be exposed to.

Foreign Language is required for almost all High School graduates. If you already speak a language other than English in the home that should not be your foreign language. It should be one the child is not familiar with. Portuguese is a good foundational language and permits easier learning of Spanish and Italian, and to a lesser extent French. It is spoken in a large geographic area of the world, Brazil, for example. Learning Portuguese might be excellent foreign mission field preparation.

Koine Greek and Latin are excellent choices but often ignored because they are not modern. They will give more benefit to an American remaining in America than an unused foreign language. Latin is the basis of many European languages and gives aid in learning vocabulary, spelling and Scientific and law-related subjects. Latin was the language of Scholarship in the Middle Ages in Europe and is still used a great deal in Science and Law. A student might benefit from a study of the Latin Vulgate translation of the Scriptures, a translation through which many have come to Christ. Koine Greek is the language of the New Testament and would aid in study of the Scriptures. Even Classical Greek can be useful in the study of History, Science and Literature. These two languages present difficulties in part because they have alphabets differing greatly from that of English.

Hebrew is also a good language, especially because it is an ancient but still living language. There are many study aids available. It is the language of most of the Old Testament Scriptures, but it is also a very difficult language, reading from right to left. The alphabet has no resemblance to ours, making it even more difficult.

Our daughter is Hard of Hearing, and we taught Sign Language as a language course. This opens many minstry opportunities, and our daughter went on to major in Special Education and is looking at international ministries to the Deaf.

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