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Fine Arts Friday: Slowing down

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Enjoying Fine Arts Friday at the Arboretum

At the beginning of this series of posts on fine arts, I explained why I’m spending one day each week focusing on arts (and natures study). I wrote that I’m teaching fine arts (and nature studies) “to provide true and good and beautiful things upon which my children can feast.”

That is absolutely still true. I think our intentional studies on Friday have also taught us to recognize and appreciate the true, good, and beautiful throughout the rest of the week, as well. But there has been an added benefit that I didn’t anticipate. Instituting a day for fine arts has forced me to slow down.

We are a fairly busy family, so getting all of our work accomplished requires us to stick pretty closely to a schedule. As homeschoolers, we obviously have more flexibility than institutional schools, but our Mondays through Thursdays are pretty routine. Added to that is my own go-go-go personality that thrives on lists and schedules and charts. It is easy for me to slip into a hectic pace and to push my kids into the same. Taking time to sit and breathe does not come naturally.
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Our Fine Arts Fridays, though, are something different. We step off the beaten path and explore at a more relaxed pace. I was beginning to think I ought to provide more structure and schedule to these days, but then I realized how sweet Fridays have become. They aren’t rushed, they aren’t filled with “must dos” but rather “get-tos.” We get to listen to all of our folk songs and dance to “Mary’s Wedding.” We get to splash in the creek or make paper flowers. Everything we do has an aspect of beauty or creativity in it; there is no assignment, simply space and time to enjoy the beauty.

I do have set topics that encompass our fine arts studies: nature studies, picture studies, music studies – including composer, hymn and folk song studies, art application, handicrafts, poetry, and Shakespeare.  While Friday is spent on those topics, we don’t touch on every subject each week.  We may head to the Arboretum, or watch Henry V, or spend a crafting day with friends. We may spend extra time on an artist and skip art application , or focus only on Shakespeare and not do much else at all. And some days we just listen to music while we work on whatever handicraft, Lego project, or blog (ahem) we wish.

Carving out these days for fine arts hasn’t just brought extra beauty into our lives — although that is certainly true — it has helped us to slow down and appreciate the beauty already surrounding us and to appreciate one another.  That’s as great a gift as the beauty itself.

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