Anything and everything can be learned when you unschool. Children aren’t sitting in a class and being taught from a curriculum, instead they are soaking up knowledge and experience from the books they read, games they play, movies they watch, or instruments they try. You can absorb information or develop a new skill simply by doing household chores, taking a hike, or playing at the beach. The fine arts are no different and they don’t require a class or lesson in order to understand or appreciate them. Kids will naturally explore their artistic sides and their creativity without any prompting but you can encourage their endeavors by thinking about some of the different ways these interests can be pursued.
Young children are naturally artistic and when they first learn to express their creativity they usually care less about the outcome of their works and more about the enjoyment they receive simply from creating. Allowing children to pursue the arts in a way they feel speaks to them the most will keep this enjoyment alive, even if and when they begin to care about their results and strive to improve their skills. Exploring ideas and creativity rather than being given an assignment can invoke a much truer passion for the arts.
2D Visual Arts
2D visual arts include activities such as painting, drawing, creating mosaics, or taking photos. In early years, kids will start with finger painting, coloring with crayons, and they may move into shading with different types of pencils, creating murals, or capturing landscapes as accurately as possible. In a classroom setting, this would definitely be the presumed progression. An unschooling child, however, may embrace finger painting wholeheartedly and dive completely into it. Painting with your hands, feeling the canvas through the paint, and experiencing the sensation that you’re connecting to your art doesn’t have to be something that only small children do, this can be a high level artistic experience. For unschoolers, they don’t have to “progress to the next lesson” or the “next level” but instead they will create their own levels and make their own definitions of what a masterpiece is.
3D Visual Arts
3D visual arts are very hands on types of projects such as pottery, sculptures, or architecture. This could even include crafts, paper mache, or building a city out of lego. 3D arts are often very immersive, stimulating not just sight but also touch, and sometimes even smell. Fun ways to inspire an interest in 3D arts may involve a trip to the museum, viewing a new art installation at a gallery, or simply strolling through an old part of town and marvelling at the architecture of the past. 3D art may even include upcycled DIY projects, such as turning a bunch of old boots into garden planters, making puppets out of old socks and gloves, or creating a village of fairy houses out of old milk cartons and jugs.
Poetry, short stories, novels, and any other materials that are written for enjoyment can be used to learn and appreciate the art form of literature. This can include reading comics and graphic novels or appreciating the script writing on your favorite movies or TV shows. Learning about literature may come in the form of writing your own scripts, stories, and journals, or may be in the form of short notes made throughout the day about random thoughts and ideas they’ve had. Kids who love comics may incorporate writing and drawing together by coming up with their own unique comic book and story line.
Music appreciation can start with your child learning children’s songs and banging away on a toy piano and can lead to them requesting music lessons for a certain instrument they’re discovered, or perhaps figuring out how to teach themselves that instrument. It may come in the form of discovering old bands, understanding the roots of a certain genre and how it was influenced, and recognizing the evolution of different types of music through the ages. There are so many ways to understand and appreciate music that it seems like it would be impossible to tell a child what they should learn rather than just letting them wander down their own path and follow the twists and turns that call out to them.
Kids are the most natural little performers. “Playing pretend” is the very heart of performance art. A drama class in school can help kids to learn certain improv exercises to get more comfortable with overcoming shyness, but performance is much more than that. Inspiration for these arts may come from attending an opera or may be found in the intricacies of the stage show from their favorite rock band. Studying performance art may involve analyzing the actions of a character in a TV show and considering the thoughts of the actor portraying this persona. It could also be found in silly games while you’re out with your kids, such as every family member adopting a new identity for a day, or switching roles between brother and sister or mother and daughter.
Fine Tuning Your Skills
Art can be whatever you make of it, no lessons required, but some children do prefer more structure or might crave a little guidance. If this is the case, there are countless free and paid courses, videos, and tutorials available on the internet to learn how to fine tune your art skills. Sites like YouTube, Udemy, and edX are excellent spaces to learn how to use your new camera, to find a course on music theory, or learn how to master the techniques of oil painting.
If you’d like to strew some fine arts materials your options are endless. Art supplies can be store bought paints and pencils or crafty odds and ends like empty egg cartons and toilet paper rolls. You can keep a library of old records or a DVD collection of operas, ballets, or dance performances from different cultures around the world. You could start a collection of art books with famous paintings or save links on your computer to virtual tours of foreign museums. There are infinite ways to create a learning environment rich in artistic inspiration but keep in mind that your child may not embrace all of these, or maybe any of them. The ideas you provide are merely a way to open doors for your children but you don’t need to push them through. They’ll wander in and out until they find a piece or performance that ignites a new passion.
The arts, be it music, painting, or film appreciation, stimulate the imagination and create the ideal environment for sensory learning. The passion and enjoyment your child experiences will come because they were allowed to discover art on their own terms, pursue it in the direction that they find most fulfilling, and express themselves how they see fit. Any art can be learned through unschooling, the direction it takes and the type of skills that will be developed should be entirely up to the individual learning it. Whether creating art or enjoying the work of someone else, art is an incredibly personal experience. Guidance can be provided but the exploration should be self directed.