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Fine arts focused homeschool experience?

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Is anyone here providing a fine arts focused homeschool experience?  Specifically, a focus on music, art, dance, and/or theater?  If so, how are you balancing that with the need for academics, without losing sight of your fine arts goals?  I'm particularly interested in your middle and high school level experience.  Thank you.  (Cross posted on the general board)

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For us the secret was year-round homeschooling. 

 

My dd got serious about music in 9th grade. We'd always homeschooled year-round, so we were in good shape academically. We took breaks when we needed them: week here and there, sometimes a month off. I hadn't planned for the kids to be accelerated, but we ended up doing that in several subjects, so there was time for the kids to pursue their interests. Looking back, it's a good plan if only to allow time for kids in high school to get a job. 

 

DD took an AP music theory class and was in a local homeschool orchestra. We traveled a good bit for a great student orchestra that met weekly. Concerts were even farther away than where they met for rehearsals. We made it work. She was in a chamber group too. She played at church, and she was in a community orchestra and did as many gigs as she could. 

 

I have to tell you, the crazy pace prepared her to be a music major in college! She has never had less than 18 credit hours a semester, and she earned college credit while in high school and on summer and winter breaks during college to graduate on time (all while in the honors program and while working on campus, doing free lance work and teaching lessons off campus.) I keep telling her she'll probably be bored in grad school, lol. 

 

 

Edited by Angie in VA
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Here youngest is concentrating on Violin and art (specifically drawing with intention to be a comic artist) and she also has a huge interest in the Far East specifically Japan & Korea.  

 

Currently she does violin lessons twice a week but next year will be possibly be adding in a third day with the local youth symphony.

We have outsourced art lessons but am looking at a tutor. She does a lot on her own right now.

 

For academics:

 

Math--she is weak in this are (she doesn't want to use her brain for it), but our goals are to get her through Algebra II. I am looking into teaching geometry with a focus on art. The geometry of art or something.

 

Science--used a regular text for biology. Next year we will be doing Anatomy through art and probably a physics & chemistry of art. (again I'm putting a lot of this together on my own)

 

Literature & composition--She has done Asian folk-tales, we will move onto Asian literature, she reads a lot of books on her own. We will do the year of American lit. Composition involves her comic projects as well as learning how to write decent papers and useful writing techniques.

 

History--Asian history (this is her interest), but we will do a year of American history.

 

Foreign language--currently Japanese but she is thinking of switching to Korean because the alphabet is easier and there are more resources for learning. But we'll see it's all her choice.

 

She doesn't plan on college but I'm trying to sneak in things so that she will be ready for college if she decides later that she wants to go. She really just wants to focus on art for a career and music for fun.

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We do a lot of The Great Courses in the car to use our travel time to lessons and rehearsals. We school year round. We don't count Carnegie hours, but focus on learning rather than time spent. We integrated history of music some with our regular history. My daughter sometimes uses literary texts from her literature class as lyrics for music compositions. I try to let go of my perfectionism and remember that it is her education, not mine.

Edited by Pronghorn
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It would be interesting if someone with a graduate would chime in and let us know how it worked out in the long term.

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No experience with a Fine Arts focus, but, as with any student who is passionate in the pursuit of a particular goal, I always recommend, if at all possible, trying to stay "college prep" with your high school credits so as to keep as much doors open for the future as possible. So:

 

4 credits = English (typically 1/2 Writing, 1/2 Lit., but there are options)

3-4 credits = Math (Alg. 1, Geometry, Alg. 2 as a minimum, and possibly a 4th higher math)

3 credits = Science, with labs (some colleges want Biology and Chemistry, but most colleges are flexible)

3 credits = Social Studies (1 credit = Amer. Hist.; 0.5 credit each = Gov't and Econ.)

2-3 credits = Foreign Language (same language)

1 credit = Fine Arts

4-8+ credits = Electives (for a Fine Arts student, these will mostly be more Fine Arts credits; but can also be things like Computer, Logic, Health, PE, Vocational-Technical, Bible/Religious Studies, personal interests, etc.)

22+ credits = total 

 

Really, that's not too bad -- 16 of those credits are the "academic credits" -- so only 4 credits per year of the 4 years of high school. And since 1.0 credit = approximately 1 hour of work 4-5 days/week for 36 weeks, so you're looking at only roughly 4 hours a day spent on non-Fine Arts credits/activities.

 

 

Ideas for easing the "credit crunch" and a schedule that requires many hours of practice/rehearsal/lessons in Fine Arts:

 

- audio lectures / audio books

For some of your reading and discussing, do it while while commuting or while eating lunch. Would work especially well for some of your History or Literature.

 

- school year-round

If your student won't be doing intensive Fine Arts programs over the summer, you can just plan on taking all year, rather than just 36 weeks, to complete your credit load.

 

- "bring up" a credit or two from middle school

If your student does a high school level course in 8th grade -- Algebra 1 or above, Biology or above, or high school level Foreign Language -- you can bring that credit up onto the high school transcript, easing the overall load of credits needed for college prep high school.

 

- double dip

When doing a research paper for History, the assignment can count towards both History and English (writing) -- just split out your hours. If doing research about the history of the Fine Art, some of those hours could count towards the History credit (if it fits in with the History era). etc.

 

- involvement in activities can count towards a credit

While your student probably won't have the time or interest to be involved in any activities other than fine arts (lol), if they do participate in something like Teen Pact or Youth & Gov't, those hours can count towards part of a Government credit. A public speaking co-op could count towards part of an English credit. etc.

 

- spread 3.0 science credits out over 4 years of high school

List the credits by subject rather than by grade/year on the transcript, and do 0.75 credit of science per year; an example:

9th = 0.75 credit of Biology

10th = 0.25 credit Biology, 0.50 credit Chemistry

11th = 0.50 credit Chemistry, 0.25 credit Physics

12th = 0.75 credit Physics

 

- do lighter or alternative sciences

If weak in or not interested in Science, consider doing a lighter program, or a non-traditional science that might be more interesting, such as Environmental Science, Astronomy, Earth Science, Ecology, Botany or Horticulture, etc.

 

- spread math out over a full year, if it is a hard subject for the student, or the student is a math-struggler

There's less forgetting of topics if you don't take a long summer break from math. And for a math struggler, it can help to go slower/lighter at the student's pace during the school year, and just keep plugging at it to complete the program over the summer -- one year we had to use the entire summer, but he finished just before the start of the next school year.

 

- CLEP tests

If your student is a good tester, study the course materials for several months, then schedule the test; passing with a minimum score awards college credit.

 

- dual enrollment

Allows you to complete advanced credits in half the time, AND earn simultaneous college and high school credit. However, your child needs to be ready for more rigorous material, as these are college courses taken while in high school for dual credit -- 1 semester college course = 1 YEAR (1.0 credit) of high school.

 

 

BEST of luck as you plan for a Fine Arts-heavy middle and high school years! Warmest regards, Lori D.

 
Edited by Lori D.

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Great advice from Lori D, as usual!

 

I do think with a fine arts focus, you have to pick curric that works around the time needed for the activity. Asynchronous classes (if you are outsourcing), books that will travel, learning to utilize car time and breaks between rehearsals for study.

 

 

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I also have a fine arts student. We get school accomplished by starting early and getting the hard subjects out of the way first.  For her, this means Biology and Geometry from 7 - 8: 30. Then she takes a breakfast/practice break/get ready for the day break. She has 1 - 1 1/2 hours to to this. We use a combined approach to lit/history/theology by using Veritas online self paced program with the primary and the secondary lectures. We also are using Professor Carol's Early Music History course which has been wonderful. Next year, she is  going to do Professor Carol's Discovering Music course. In the afternoon, we finish up Expository writing, any leftover music history, and logic when it fits in.  She has lessons in 3 instruments as well as a string ensemble, so I am  counting her music lessons as elective courses with the extra concerts and musicals as extracurricular. We are going to cover a 1/2 credit technology credit this summer learning to use Sibelius music software.

 

So, for fine arts: We meet our state graduation requirements and work to complete a CP/Honors level curriculum.  We use the electives to get extra fine arts background via the music history. We find local theater summer camps to cover drama skills.  She also already has the required foreign language credits out of the way. For us, starting early in the morning allows time for her to practice twice a day. I will do an intro to art course when we can fit it in.

 

If your student is young: you can start earning high school credits early such as foreign language and core classes. Make a high school plan to figure out where you will put the required courses. Then fit the fine arts around graduation requirements.

 

For what it is worth, we have learned that swim class cancels out the shoulder stress from violin playing. - if anyone has a string player......

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I can tell you what we're planning on doing since we're just beginning. We're using 8th grade to make a 5 year high school plan. She'll be taking 9th grade cultural geography, English I, and Chinese I this next year. This gives a little more wiggle room in her schedule.

 

She takes 2 art classes and 1 open studio per week. She draws all day when she's not working on school.

 

When she starts her official freshman year, she'll be taking her art classes at The Art Institute of Chicago school in their early college program. She's super excited about this. She'd like to eventually go to college there. Since one semester college courses count as one high school credit, this will also give her more flexibility.

 

Math is not her strong suit. I plan on getting her through Algebra II. Most of her electives will be in fine art and foreign language.

 

Her education will still be as rigorous as she 8s capable of. She has minor LDs, which is actually why we have a 5 year high school plan. She can move at a slightly slower pace. We also school year round which lightens her load even more.

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Is anyone here providing a fine arts focused homeschool experience?  Specifically, a focus on music, art, dance, and/or theater?  If so, how are you balancing that with the need for academics, without losing sight of your fine arts goals?  I'm particularly interested in your middle and high school level experience.  Thank you.  (Cross posted on the general board)

 

I can't say I'm providing a specific FOCUSED homeschool experience, but I can say that by the time both of my kids reached high school, they were ready to study the academic parts efficiently.  This left each of them more time to pursue their other interests.  I credit this to all I've learned from the WTM book and these forums.

 

I do have a very arts/volunteer-focused high school daughter who is homeschooling.  Since she was 14, she has taken on a TON of volunteer experiences in our community (and I will always be grateful to Jane in NC who used to tell boardies to find local experiences for our kids and not worry that we can't get them into all sorts of traditional classes and activities due to lack of money and transportation).  For my daughter, I have a bare-bones but very appropriate university-prep program going on for her, even though she won't be attending university (at least not right after high school - she might change her mind, and she will have the transcript, references, and SAT scores to support any future endeavor she might want).  I require a thorough study of math (Algebra I and II, Geometry - 1960s Dolciani), English (grammar review, rhetoric study and practice, weekly composition writing across the curriculum, historical literature - all WTM-adapted style) every year, world history ancient to modern throughout high school years (using many WTM study techniques), and basic sciences such as physics, chemistry, and biology (using many WTM study techniques).  It sounds like a lot, and the course descriptions I wrote up make it sound like a lot; but I am finding that because of all the techniques I've had her (and my son) learn over the years, she just learns this stuff more efficiently now.  Will she remember every single detail of all the content study she does?  No.  But she will know how to take in knowledge and process it from here on out, and she will have a decent exposure to many ideas.  (same with my son, who is thriving in his BSc studies at university)

 

All this to say that she has maybe twenty hours per week solely focused on my requirements for her transcript.  (and this is my child who has fought against having to "study things I'll never use!!" - but the girl can study, absorb, think, and put that thinking out on paper pretty coherently - still working on that, but practice is going well)  The rest of her time is taken up with all the things she loves to do, such as drawing, volunteering at church KD lunch program for local high schoolers/two years at local recreation centre helping with programs for kids/occasional childcare program at a church/I can't remember what else because she does so much random volunteering, visiting with lots of different friends, getting paid for occasional babysitting plus occasional running of sound systems at local church funerals, working at her new part-time job, etc.  She does devote a lot of time, too, to her drawing (she is amazing at portrait drawing - all self-taught) and other artistic endeavors such as unique clothing and makeup and room design.

 

My point is that if you can work it so that high school requirements can be efficiently studied, your student can have all kinds of time to focus on whatever.  I hope this helps!

 

P.S.  A year-round schedule helps us, too, like another poster mentioned.

 

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It would be interesting if someone with a graduate would chime in and let us know how it worked out in the long term.

 

We started focusing on my 22 yr old's 'speciality' (which is theatre) when he was in 9th grade.  It was then that we could see he clearly wanted to pursue something in the theatre, and while we did all the basics-- he also spent a lot of time working in a local youth theatre; acting and stage managing.  He went on to found a small theatre company his senior year.  He directed all the plays and wrote one as well. 

 

He ended up deciding to pursue theatre education and will graduate next month with a BFA in that field.  He plans to work for a few years to gain more experience and then pursue an MFA in directing.

 

I believe in specialities in high school if there is a clear and solid interest.   It worked well for my eldest and is working for my other two as well.  We don't solely focus on that, but we do lean fairly heavily in a specific direction depending on interest.

 

If they hadn't had strong interests, that would have been OK too! 

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I always thought it would be great to do a Fine Arts intensive program, but never planned it. I just didn't really know how. But now, my son spends hours every day on the piano and researching music topics and reading his several music history and theory books and even composing books. Thank goodness we started his high school classes a year early. Next year, we only plan to do science and math. We might throw in a composition course. But this is ok. He is going in to 10th grade and has more than 12 credits already.

Edited by Janeway

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:lurk5:

My artistic DD will be in 9th next year. I'm very  :confused1: at this point other than I'm going to try to get the college prep stuff into her, even though math will be tough every year & the science will be either "conceptual" or very interest-based (animal anatomy for better drawings?). I'm going to write up her art work as credits since she spends hours doing that every day. She's also my fiction writer, so there will probably be "creative writing" on the transcript every year.

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Lee Binz has a series of books called "Coffee Break Books," Her one called Delight Directed Learning has been a help to us  in creating courses. For example, I keep logs of my daughter's library reading as well as the constant research she does on Broadway Musicals. Periodically, I can call something a 1/2 credit self directed course when she does the hours for a Carnegie Credit. She will have one of these this hear for a Historical Fiction course. I also require that she writes essays for these courses.

 

But, Lee's books have helped me to learn how to write an accurate course description for things like this. She also has lots of information and webinars for writing transcripts and other homeschooling high school related topics.

 

http://www.thehomescholar.com/delight-directed-high-school.php

https://www.amazon.com/Delight-Directed-Learning-Homeschooler-HomeScholars-ebook/dp/B00BOB0ZRW

https://www.thehomeschoolmom.com/transcripts-and-delight-directed-learning/

 

 

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For us it has been balancing extra curricular music activities with academics. My dd goes to the high school part time, mostly to do band and symphonic orchestra. She's only taken Biology, AP Music Theory and Brain Studies there, everything else has been online (asynchronous) or at home. She was also drum major for the marching band last year and hopefully will be next year (her senior year) as well. Right now she is in the middle of musical practice with the orchestra which ramps up this weekend to 7hrs Sat and Sun and 5 1/2 hrs each weeknight until the musical next weekend. For us, we know what the schedule is ahead of time so we push things during less busy times (mid Oct to mid-Mar) and take it easy when things are hectic during marching band season and the spring musical. We can't do much over the summer as she goes to a 6 week music performance program, is back for a week, then off to marching band camp and school starts right after that. Last fall we didn't even start math or science until mid-October. We know the weeks between spring break and the musical are also very busy, so we take a time-out from home based classes.

 

Next year she is probably not taking any online classes or anything at school except for band, but she will still have the extra curriculars. All I am asking her to do next year, other than math, is read. She wants to study ancient Roman and Greek literature so we will weave that into an English and maybe another SS credit. She has enough credits in foreign language, social studies and science. She may take creative writing online if I can find one that interests her, but she really just wants to have time to practice most of the day and not have to take any tests :) 

 

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For us the key was getting academics done first thing in the day and then spending the afternoon hours on creative pursuits. We also used weekends and the summer for creative interests. It is definitely a balancing act but it can work. My daughter pursued music all through her high school years and will be majoring in music in college. My son worked on film including many outside classes and summer internships in his high school years and has been accepted to numerous film programs. The key is to balance the academics with the creative pursuits. Both are important when applying to college. 

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As others have suggested, DD18 did a rigorous honors/AP curriculum, particularly in the first half of high school-- Math through calc, although the calc was very liberal-artsy, using a non-majors college text. Lots of science, language arts, history. He didn't love it, but it informed his art. When he started DE classes, at first he dutifully took rigorous academic subjects, but after a semester or so of that he really looked at DE classes that would fit into his own studio practice-- contemporary American art. So a he took a humanities class that looked at the American history, art, culture, politics of each decade in the second half of the 20th C. and a sculpture class, for instance.

 

I did not supervise his studio practice at all, except to drive him to art lessons all over. Oh, and he had to finish school work before he could work on art. He took lots of classes at School of the Art Institute-- that was very helpful. Lots of summer art programs. Sdobis, if your DD is interested in contemporary art, the Museum of Contemporary Art has a terrific teen program, Teen Creative Agency, where teen artists meet working artists at the MCA. TCA was highly influential for my son, and led him to several mentors that guided him. https://mcachicago.org/Learn/Teens/TCA. One of his pieces was shown at 21-Minus, which is where the MCA allows teens to take over the museum for a day. Now he runs his own schedule.

 

I'm not an artist, and don't know a lot about art. When he was in 9th grade he told me he needed to start showing his work in real galleries. I told him I really didn't know how to even start doing that, and I had to help his older brother apply to college and homeschool him and his younger sister. He offered to contact galleries on his own. And so it began. He did a lot of things on his own: curating his own mini pop-up gallery, submitting his work to adult art exhibitions, applying for fellowships and internships. He maintains his own website and curates his work there, and created and maintains his own CV.  I researched TCA and a teen program at the Art Institute. He applied to both, and got into TCA. I also helped him sign up to show his art at the local library, and that was his first 'solo' show. After that he organized his own shows at small galleries all over the city.

So I was in charge of providing the academic stuff. He was in charge of his art. 

Good luck!

Maria

 

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Lee Binz has a series of books called "Coffee Break Books," Her one called Delight Directed Learning has been a help to us in creating courses. For example, I keep logs of my daughter's library reading as well as the constant research she does on Broadway Musicals. Periodically, I can call something a 1/2 credit self directed course when she does the hours for a Carnegie Credit. She will have one of these this hear for a Historical Fiction course. I also require that she writes essays for these courses.

 

But, Lee's books have helped me to learn how to write an accurate course description for things like this. She also has lots of information and webinars for writing transcripts and other homeschooling high school related topics.

 

http://www.thehomescholar.com/delight-directed-high-school.php

https://www.amazon.com/Delight-Directed-Learning-Homeschooler-HomeScholars-ebook/dp/B00BOB0ZRW

https://www.thehomeschoolmom.com/transcripts-and-delight-directed-learning/

I'm excited to hear her speak at our convention. I plan on attending every one of her lectures.

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