In my day-to-day life as a homeschooling mother it’s important to find new ways to torture the children.

I mean, teach them stuff. In particular, I decided last year that 2017 would include a lot more arts (all disciplines combined; I’m not always systematic in my approach) and some art history than previous years. They’re bigger now, and they’re interested. At least, a little bit.

I bought a calendar from the Metropolitan Museum of Art that features an item from their collection for each day of the year. It’s a brilliant way to add just a dash of the stuff to our lives. And since we started pretty much from zero, we found it a great way into the subject. I also bought a curriculum online that includes painting styles and classical music, along with a random assortment of reference books that we can consult for fun. We also picked up a bunch of colouring books where kids get to colour masterpieces (they have the most amazing stuff available and for peanuts, too; so far we’re keen on Impressionists and especially Renoir).

The point is, I try very hard not to cram too much art because I don’t want them to be unduly overwhelmed and ultimately decide they hate it because there are too many names, dates and complicated words to remember. My focus at the moment is to show them a lot of art and just ask them what they like about it, or what they don’t like – emphasizing that there are no right or wrong answers. Every now and then they’ll recognize an artist and there’ll be shrieks of delight all around. Especially coming from me.

Today I thought I’d try something new. We would go and see a particular piece of public art, look at it, touch it, take pictures, and then talk about what we like/dislike about it. They picked, as their first choice, the Cancer Survivors park near the General Hospital and CHEO. This gave us a chance to discuss the intentions behind the installation, what feelings the artists wanted us to have, whether the statues looked real or not, and so on.

It was a pretty good experience. They weren’t thrilled, but they didn’t balk either, so I’ll count it as a success. Youngest wants to see more painting so maybe next time we’ll aim to find interesting graffiti to go and study. We’ll see how that goes.