Picture study is one of the easiest components of a Charlotte Mason education to incorporate into your homeschool curriculum. You do not need to know anything yourself about art, or art history. I repeat …You do NOT need to know ANYTHING about art or art history to begin. All you need is knowledge of the method and a few worthy resources.
Why is Picture Study important?
In today’s society, the importance of the arts has been superseded by STEM and the other sciences. We have lost touch with the great artistic masters of past. Now, the masses only see fragments, distorted reproductions of the original genius of these men and women. For most of us, the only exposure we get to great art might be a coffee shop using the Mona Lisa in it’s logo, or a travel advert for Japan using a work of art by Hokusai.
Many of us will have heard of Leonardo Da Vinci, or Claude Monet, and will have seen their art used in advertisements on billboards and the TV, but have little to draw upon from our own education.
Just as the great works of literature give us glimpses in the the mighty thoughts of the world’s great authors, so too picture study can give us insight into the ideas and minds of those artists. It puts children in touch with worthy ideas and inspires them with something more than modern life can offer.
” 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 a single picture.” – Charlotte Mason
Picture study offers our children a store of images in their mind, to balance out the media’s influence and attempt to monopolize their senses.
Picture study also:
Improves a child’s power of observation
Develop a sense of beauty
Connects them with an artist of a piece of art
Helps them to form opinion about art and their own taste in it
Encourages them to draw and be creative themselves
How to do Picture Study
From the ages of 6 to 15 Charlotte Mason recommended that children become acquainted with at least thirty of the world’s most famous artists.
I have filmed a short video, showing glimpses into our own Picture study lesson, in the hope that it will make what is written here clearer.
WATCH THIS VIDEO!
First begin by choosing the artist you wish them to study. In our first year, we began with Leonardo Da Vinci as it was easy to find the resources we needed, and I was slightly familiar with his work.
However, please remember, you do not need to know ANYTHING about the artist before you begin. In fact, it will only add to your enjoyment of this subject, as you find yourself learning alongside the children.
Examples of artists to study include:
Leonardo Da Vinci
The next step is to find six works of art by that artist for that school term, and studying three different artists per year.
Display one of those pieces in front of your children, and ask them to look at it closely, in silence. Allow them plenty of time to, not only absorb it, but to think and ponder over it. Then, when they are finished, hide the art from them and ask them to describe it.
Try your best not to prompt them with leading questions, like “What colour was her dress?” or “What was the weather like?” Just simply say, ” Tell me about it.” They will almost certainly not remember everything, but they don’t need to. By narrating in this way, they are performing a much higher thought process; of observing, processing, recalling and articulating those thoughts in their own words.
If you prompt too much, you are in danger of having your children become dependent on your questions, like we often see in school comprehension worksheets and multiple choice questions. Allow your children to think for themselves.
If your child is not used to narration, and is struggling to recall it or articulate his thoughts, then let him see the painting as he narrates. It is difficult skill to develop, so take it slow and try to keep the atmosphere joyful.
For older children, you can allow them to sketch from memory what they saw if they would like to.
The next step is to display that piece of art somewhere in your home so that the children can see it frequently through out their day.
The following week, repeat the process with the SAME piece of art. You will hopefully find that your children have more to say!
It can be helpful to tell the children a little about the artist or the painting before you begin. If the painting is about a story, it can be helpful to tell your children this story before you begin the picture study. Likewise, knowing a little more about the artist they are studying, will help them to form connections with him/her. Knowing more about the mind behind the art will encourage your children to look more closely at the work itself.
After 2 weeks, switch to another piece art by that same artist. In so doing, your child will some to know at least 6 of the artist’s works each term. That’s an incredible achievement!
Picture Study Resources
For the art prints themselves, I would always recommend getting the largest prints you can find and display easily.
Postcards and images in art textbooks are often too small for multiple children to see at once, and inevitably loose the finer details.
We personally use wall calendars of a specific artist. These tend to be much cheaper than books, the prints are a good size, and they are easy to display on our kitchen wall. Here are a few examples of some we have used:
Children’s artist biographies can also be found at the library, but I would strongly recommend pre-reading these so you can omit the less-wholesome parts of the artist’s lives that young children do not need to know about. However, it may be worthwhile older children knowing the full picture, as these parts of their lives will have inevitably influenced their art, and will make for meaningful discussions with you.
Here are a few artist biographies, in the form of living books, that we have enjoyed with our young children:
From the age of fourteen, art history is incorporated into the Charlotte Mason curriculum, where children learn how the artist worldview would have influenced their art.
The picture study lessons will take no more that 10-15 minutes a week, but the influence that they have will be lifelong. To be able to store “a couple of hundred pictures by great masters hanging permanently in the halls of [their] imagination” is a worthy endeavor.
Teaching science in your homeschool can be difficult without the right curriculum. You have to consider your child’s learning style, find ways in incorporate hands-on learning, coding, technology, and all within your budget!
Despite these difficulties, my kids love science and so I have been looking for ways to include more supplemental science into our homeschool curriculum without adding to much to my own workload!
We follow the Charlotte Mason philosophy in our homeschool, and so I was looking for something to supplement our existing curriculum.
TheHomeschool Buyers Co-ophas an award-winning selection of science and technology products, including core science curriculum and supplements, coding and programming courses, hands-on experimentation, and more.
I can’t tell you what a relief it was to me as a homeschooling mum to find these resources!
What about Technology and Coding?
I don’t know about you, but I don’t remember much about technology frim school, and I’m still not sure I know what coding is! Thank goodness there are homeschool curricula available to teach this for me.
The Homeschool Buyers Co-op offer a range of technology and coding curricula to chose from, all with significant savings too.
Online Homeschool Curriculum
If you’re like me and live outside the U.S. it can sometimes be frustrating to find homeschool curriculum. The great thing about Homeschool Buyers Co-op is that many of the curricula that they offer are online, so you don’t need to pay for International shipping!
Even if you do live in the U.S., an online Science curriculum is a great way to save money without compromising your child’s education.
So, if like me, you have been worried about how to teach Science in your homeschool, I would encourage to visit the Homeschool Buyers Co-opand see the choices they have on offer.
If you have any questions, please leave them for me in the comment below.
The power of words, their ability to turn hearts and move men should never be underestimated.
In fact, it has become one of the few truths that I stand by: that words can change the world.
One of the greatest proofs of this are the scriptures of the Abrahamic religions. Muslims, along with Jews and Christians, are called the “people of the book” and it is through the Divine words of revelation that God chose to guide us; words that forever changed the world.
“It is He Who sent down to thee, in truth, the Book (Quran), confirming what went before it; and He sent down the Law (of Moses) and the Gospel (of Jesus) before this, as a guide to mankind, and He sent down the criterion (Quran) (of judgment between right and wrong).” – Holy Quran 3:3
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Words, in their ever varied and beautiful forms, also make up the backbone of our literature-based homeschool. It is by the craftsmanship of the many great authors we read, that my children gain knowledge and are inspired to learn.
Through the words of others, they are taught what it means to be human; the good, the bad and everything in between.
The beauty of well crafted words sometimes catches me off guard, as if placed in my path for a reason; to remind me, teach me or just to make me smile when I need it the most.
One such occasion was when we were visiting a local park. Despite having been to the same park for years, it was only on this visit that I noticed a small second-hand bookshop hidden above the ice-cream parlour. After the ice-creams were enjoyed, we all ventured up the narrow wooden staircase in the lofted roof. Tucked up under the eaves were hundreds of second-hand books, neatly arranged on old mismatched bookcases. The delight of finding this “secret” treasure-trove was not lost on my children, who quickly set about scouring the shelves looking for “the” book for them.
In addition to these, my youngest son carried home a hardback copy of Stories from Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milneas though it was the most precious thing in the world.
Back home, over a cup of tea, I opened the poetry book and the first poem that met my eyes made my heart flutter. I can’t make out if it was a pang of recollection from a distant childhood memory, or simply the power of the poem’s vivid imagery.
This is the poem I read,
The Way Through the Woods
They shut the road through the woods
Seventy years ago.
Weather and rain have undone it again,
And now you would never know
There was once a road through the woods
Before they planted the trees.
It is underneath the coppice and heath,
And the thin anemones.
Only the keeper sees
That, where the ring-dove broods,
And the badgers roll at ease,
There was once a road through the woods.
Yet, if you enter the woods
Of a summer evening late,
When the night-air cools on the trout-ringed pools
Where the otter whistles his mate,
(They fear not men in the woods,
Because they see so few.)
You will hear the beat of a horse’s feet
And the swish of a skirt in the dew,
Steadily cantering through
The misty solitudes,
As though they perfectly knew
The old lost road through the woods.
But there is no road through the woods.
By Rudyard Kipling
I read it over and over again, and it made me smile.
Words can do that; they can bring joy and delight when before there was none.
Then I read it to my kids. With their eyes closed and the room quiet, they felt it too. They told me about, “The lost road,” and “The horses hooves,” and they talked together about how roads were different in the olden days. They got it. They saw it in the minds and they felt the words.
Together we enjoyed those words, written many years ago by a man we never knew. Those words brought us closer. That poem is now something we share, like an inside joke or a happy memory.
By exposing my children to these great authors and poets, who are masters of their craft, I hope that my children will one day be able to yield the power found within words and use it for a noble purpose insha’Allah.
One day, when they are grown, and they hear the words of that poem again, it will trigger something within them and make their hearts flutter as they remember; and then perhaps they will pass these words onto their children.
Words connect us, they move us, and so too can they shape us. That is why I raise my children upon the best of them.
Like most homeschooling families, I started planning for the next year of home education at least 6 months ago, and have been slowly collecting different resources as I find them. This is what we are going with this year!
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My children are 5 and 3 years old.
Below I have listed the curriculum we will be using for M as he starts Year 1 (Kindergarten) from September. For A, my pre-schooler, we will not be following a set curriculum, but will draw ideas from few different books, which I also have listed below.
The books listed below are the ‘main’ texts we will be using, but we will also draw from many other resources that we have at home; as well as online and from our library.
We also enjoy frequent field trips!
If you are interested in any of these books, just click on the title of the book for a link to Amazon or the relevant website.Please note: This does not include our reading list, i.e books (fiction) that M will read or will have read to him.
I hope our curriculum helps to inspire other Muslim Homeschooling Families, as so many others have inspired me!
YEAR 1 / Kindergarten Curriculum
It is my opinion that religion should not be taught as an academic subject, but rather it should be something that children witness as part of normal life, learning from your example and other good company. However there are some books that we will use for activities and to stimulate discussions:
For this year we will follow an interest-led approach for the humanities. By this I mean that we will have a relaxed approach to these topics, studying what-ever M wants to learn about using books from our local library.
We will be primarily doing the study of nature this year. However when the weather doesn’t allow us to go outdoors, we will use the latter two book for fun science experiments:
If you would like more ideas for Curriculum choices, particularly for older children, I would recommend visiting Noor Janan HomeschoolandIman’s Home-school; both great resources for Muslim Homeschoolers.
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If you have any questions, or any ideas for future posts, please leave them for me in the comments below. If you have a blog post about you homeschool curriculum. please feel free to link it below. I’d love to know what your using!
As I mentioned before, you can find your local group of homeschoolers on Facebook. Another place you can look is Home Education in the UK who have a list of all the homeschooling groups around the country with contact details. Surrounding you and your children with like-minded people is so important, especially in the beginning. Go along to one of the group’s social events and ask a lot of questions. That’s what I did!
Starting this ‘journey’ is such an exciting time. The main advice I would give is learn as much as you can about home education, stay flexible, and don’t be disheartened if things don’t go as planned. It’s still early days!
We are so blessed to have this opportunity to stay home and educate our children. Alhumdulillah!
For more experienced home educators: What resources would
you recommend for a newbie homeschooler? Please share with us in the comments below.
Do you like the idea of homeschooling, but are not sure what
it will entail? What does home education really mean in a practical real life
situation? How do I know if it will be right for us?
This article will highlight some of the pros and cons of
homeschooling so you can make an informed decision.
You will need to decide personally how important each
positive or negative is to you. This will depend on your character, your
situation and your child. Homeschooling is a fantastic option, but it is not
for everyone. I hope this article helps you to decide if it is for you.
Home education gives you almost complete control over WHAT
your child is learning and HOW they are learning it. It also means parents can control what your child is exposed to: friends, books, music, peer
pressure, bullying, religious teaching to name a few.
Whilst there is some truth in the argument that children
need to learn the social skills to deal with these negative things, there is a lot of
harm that can be done to a child, particularly to his character, when exposed
to them on a daily basis.
Homeschooling allows you to schedule school around you family’s needs, and not schedule the
family needs around school.
For us this means we rarely do formal school on a Friday as it is
our Sabbath. Instead, that time is spent reading Islamic children’s books,
doing an Islamic craft, or something like that. When they are older, we will use that time to go to the mosque for Jummah too insha’Allah.
As a home educator, you have complete flexibility over what
you are teaching you child. You can add in subject that they wouldn’t be
learning at school (e.g. Arabic) and disregard those subjects you find
inappropriate (e.g. sex education).
If the curriculum you buy is not working
for your child, you can switch to another one in the middle of the year. Or if
he is not understanding a concept well, you can go back and revisit it. If your
child is gifted in a topic, you can provide her with more challenging material
that she would not get at school.
Home schooling also give children the opportunity to pursue
their talents that would otherwise be difficult if they were at school 6-8
hours a day. If you child is a talented tennis player, you can fit his school
work in around his sports lessons. The same can be said for any talent or
interest that your kid may have.
You can book holidays in ‘term-time’ and benefit from
cheaper rates! You can stop and start school whenever you need to, as long as
your child learning is not interrupted too much. For example, over Ramadan, we
do very little formal schooling, but will make up for lost time over the
Better exam results
It has been shown in studies in the US that children who are
home educated performed better on standardized testing, than those in
mainstream education .
One reason for this is you are providing you child with
one-to-one tuition for every subject, every day, rather than sharing the
attention of the teacher with thirty-five other kids. You will be tailoring the
way to teach each subject to the unique way your child learns. You will be
pushing him when he finds something easy, and going back when a concept is not
understood. So its hardly surprising really that home-educated kids are doing
Spending all that time together, and sharing all those
memories inevitably brings a family closer together, especially the bond
No school runs!
I know this sounds silly, but listen!
Imagine allowing your children to wake up whenever they
naturally get up, having a relaxed breakfast, and not having to ‘rush rush
rush’ to get everyone ready and out the door! No waiting in traffic, no
stressing about uniforms, or thinking about packed lunches, washing sports
kits, remembering book bags or signing forms. Instead mornings are just…EASY!
This is the big one that everyone fears! Instead of handing
over the responsibility for your child’s education to a group of strangers, YOU
are completely responsible. If they don’t do well academically or personally, the responsibility is on you.
Personally, I think even if your child was at school, you
are still entirely responsible. The day you had your baby, the day Allah
entrusted that soul into your care, was when you became responsible and
accountable for the education of your child.
Homeschooling your children will almost always require one
parent to put their career on hold. Therefore is usually means that home
educating families have to live off one-income alone.
Since homeschooling is almost completely unheard of in the
UK, most people are either confused or shocked when you say that the kids are
homeschooled. Most will make the assumption that you are depriving your kids in
But sometimes people will surprise you with positive
comments like, ‘Aren’t your kids lucky!’ Or ‘I wish we’d thought of that!’
The kids are ALWAYS
Of course, most of the time, I view this are a good thing. I
love their company. Homeschooling would be a very difficult thing if I did not.
But there are days, that all mums go through, when you just ‘need a break.’ But
when you homeschool, there is no break from the kids…..EVER!
There are times when it can be emotionally very draining, and it is not uncommon for mum’s to suffer from ‘burnout’ if they don’t take steps to avoid it.
Your house will never
So if the kids are always home, then it follows that it will
always be a mess! That, in addition to the fact that, you will have to find
space for all the extra books, science experiments, art supplies, and all other
manner of ‘educational resources’ that will inevitably end up littering every
available surface. Your home will never be a show home, but it will be filled
with memories that are (in my opinion) worth so much more.
Keep kids active
It will be your responsibility to make sure the kids stay
fit and healthy. At school children do sports at least three times a week and
run around in breaks etc. If they are not attending school, you need to find
ways to keep them active. Choose something that your child enjoys. Don’t force
them to do a sport they dislike, just because their peers at school are doing
it. Think outside the box. Hiking, skating, rock climbing are just as good
forms of exercise as any organised sport.
Even if you have a very relaxed take on home education, you
will still need to have some level of organisation and planning. Personally, I
like to have the year planned out in general terms, and then plan in detail just
one month ahead of time.
Planning out what subjects you will cover and how you will
‘teach’ these subjects does not need to be complicated. For those overwhelmed
by all the choices, or concerned that they won’t cover ‘everything they need
to,’ should consider a boxed curriculum. These are more expensive, but contain
all the texts you need for every subject, all the worksheets and even a
timetable to follow. There are numerous websites and books available, most from
USA, that outline what should be covered and when. I will cover my recommendations
the next post in the series.
You have to ‘find’
friends/ social opportunities
If you yourself are very shy or suffer with social anxiety,
this may find this aspect of homeschooling difficult. You will need to ‘get out
there’ to give your children opportunities to meet new people and make friends.
But consider this negative point to also be a positive one.
You can encourage friendships for your child that you feel may benefit him, and
limit friendships with kids who might be a ‘bad influence.’ If done well and
with thought, your child will know how to interact comfortably with children of
all ages, races and different backgrounds to their own. Something that no
school can offer.
Homeschooling can be more expensive than sending you child
to school. You will need to buy things that ordinarily he would get for free at
However, there are curriculum choices for every budget and
if you spend wisely, it doesn’t need to break the bank. Just remember that
peer-pressure itself can be very expensive and think of all the money you’ll be
saving by not having to buy the lastest toy, shoes, clothes, video game or
mobile phone for your child. Or going to every classmate’s birthday party,
class Christmas presents and other school events.
There are so many free resources online, as well as
homeschooling communities that sell things second-hand once their child has
finished with them. So don’t be put off by the cost of homeeducation, it can be
done to within your budget.
You may be asked for a home visit from an LEA official or
school nurse, or be asked to provide some kind of written information. I would
recommend dealing with these authorities with a touch of caution, and do your
research on what information you need to give them by law, and what you do not.
If you decide to put your child into school at a later date,
you may find it difficult to get them a place in the ‘best’ schools.
You also need to consider University. Universities in the UK
do accept homeschooled kids, but it will require you as a parent, to correspond
directly with the university early on, to find out what records need to be kept
and what other requirements they may have. Like with all things in homeshooling,
the responsibility is with you and it just requires a little more planning. You
may want to consider sending you kid to a university in the United States, where
colleges are more familiar with home education and some actually now prefer
home educated students .
So now you’ve heard the truth. You know the main advantages
and disadvantages of homeschooling and I hope this helps you to make a decision
on whether to home educate your child.
A Guide to what Home Education is, could be and definitely is not!
Home education is on the rise! However many people in the UK still do not realise that homeschooling is an valid and legal option for the education of their children. Many naively think they know what it is, but they really don’t! In this article I will outline what home education is, what it could be and what it definitely is not!
To homeschool in the UK is an extraordinary thing! In 2007, it was estimated that only 34,000 students are being home educated in the UK . Whilst it is almost certain that this figure has increased since then, compared to the massive home-ed movement in the United States, where there were 1,770,000 children being educated at home in 2013 , homeschooling in this country is still in its infancy.
I get so many messages and emails from Muslim women, who are considering homeschooling, but have been ‘put off’ by misconceptions and false ideas of what it entails, often assuming that it would be much harder than it truly is. So to discover what homeschooling really is, we will begin this article by looking at what it is NOT and those things that ‘put people off’!
To homeschool you have to….
Recreate school at home
This is something that almost all new homeeducators do at the beginning, calling upon their memories of school and how ‘teaching’ was done. Whilst this may work for some, it is definitely not a requirement. You do not need to structure your day like that at school, stand at the front of the class lecturing, create a classroom in your home, and you don’t even need to follow the National Curriculum . If you want to mimic the school environment you can, but if you want to do your ‘own thing’ with your children, you are free to do so. Remember, you chose not to not send your child to school for a reason, so think twice before you turn your home into one.
Be a teacher
There is a preconceived notion among many that only a teacher knows how to teach ‘properly.’
Think about this.
Whilst a teacher may know how to manage a class of thirty-five kids without it descending into anarchy, who knows your child better? Who knows how she learns best? Who knows what motivates her and what she is interested in? Who would put that child’s interest above and beyond her own?
You, as a parent, can be the best and only teacher your child will ever need. Of course, it will require a little effort on your part, but it certainly doesn’t mean you need to go out and start a teacher training course!
Stay at home all the time
Certainly, in my situation, nothing could be further from the truth. Home educators seem to have this uncanny ability to make anything and everything a ‘learning opportunity!’ You do not need to be sitting at a desk with a textbook to be learning. In fact sometimes the best and most lasting lessons are those seen and done in the ‘real world.’Furthermore, because you are in control of how you plan the ‘school day’, you can take educational trips whenever you want. If the sun is shining you can pack up your Maths books and take them to the park, or instead of learning about coastal processes and wave erosion from a dry textbook, you can pack up the car and head to the beach. What better way to learn about the natural world, than to experience it first hand; a trip to the woods, a walk in the countryside. The world is your classroom!
Depending where you live in the country, there are also many sporting and musical groups for children of all ages that homeschoolers can make the most of, and many of these are free.
Since you are working one-to-one whith your child, the material you need to study each day takes considerably less time that if they were at school. At school they have to share the teacher’s attention with thirty other students, waste time with assemblies, standing in lines, and other ‘busy work’. All of which are not for the benefit of the individual student, but rather for ‘classroom management.’ So, with all this extra free time, there is plenty of opportunity to go out and about, visiting National trust properties, going rock climbing, learning to swim and pursue any other interest or talent your child may have.
Have a gifted child
Yes it is true, some homeschooled children are geniuses! And yes, homeschooled children do perform better in standardised tests, often working at least one year above their school peers , but not all home educated kids are geniuses. Most, in terms of their IQ at least, are pretty ‘normal.’
Have a stupid or delinquent child
Some people, particularly those of an older generation, will make the assumption that you homeschool because your child got expelled from school for bad grades or bad behaviour. I cannot deny, that this may be the case for a few families, but like I said before, most homeschooled children are pretty ‘normal.’
Be a highly religious/ new-age type
A growing number of families who practice their faith, whatever that may be, are choosing to home educate due to concerns over the moral upbringing school offers, or fails to offer, their children and the potential harm the school environment could do to their character and faith. In the UK a large proportion of homeschoolers are from religious families. However there has been a massive increase in numbers who have no particular religious affiliation, many of whom are professional middle-class families, disenchanted by the education that mainstream schools offer.
You need to be wealthy
Nothing could further from the truth. In fact most homeschooling families are living off one-income, whilst the other parent stays home full-time.
Whilst I am the first to admit that I have an unhealthy addiction to all things ‘educational’ and must be Amazon’s best customer, none of these things essential to provide your child with a wholesome, well-rounded education.There are so many curriculum, books, computer programmes, educational toys, craft kits etc. that are marketed at mums and dads like us. Remember, most of them are money making ventures, and whilst there may be some merit in their products, they are NOT necessary for your homeschool.
All you really needs are pens, paper, a library card and maybe an internet connection. As the children get older you can borrow and swap books with other homeschoolers, and even share teaching responsibility (called a co-op) for certain subjects with other mums. It is not the money you have that determines how well your child does, but the time that you give him.
What is homeschooling then?
It is anything you want it to be! That’s the great thing about this form of education. You can make it into whatever you wish. You can cater to your family and child’s needs and interests. You can adapt it to your own education philosophy or integrate your religious teachings into everyday classes. If you choose to create a traditional classroom in your dining room, you can. If you want to provide Montessori resources, you can. Many people travel the world, whilst their children learn on the go. Some prioritise religious teachings, whilst others organise their day to allow their children time to excel in sporting or musical talents. Others choose unschooling or project-based learning or classical education. (Don’t worry if you don’t know what all these terms mean…you soon will! What matters is that you want to homeschool and you are taking the first-steps.)
The key thing here is that homeschooling can be whatever you WANT it and NEED it to be.
To make sure you don’t miss the next in the series, please Subscribe to my blog, or follow me on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.If you have any specific questions, please leave them for me in the comments below and I will do my best to answer them insha’Allah. Thanks for reading!