Bethany Shaw | Homeschool Art Class – Palomita

Bethany Shaw | Homeschool Art Class

Q: Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like?

 A: Growing up my life was brimming with song, nature, books, crafts, family, and faith. My family of nine moved about every two-three years due to my dad’s career, pausing within KY, GA, FL, IN, and HI; my dad’s name means “wise wanderer” and he lives up to it!  

 Until 9h grade I was homeschooled. My mom embraced home educating when it was considered “odd” which now, as an adult, I recognize how unconventionally rebellious and counter-cultural she was! I also was gifted the unique experience of being homeschooled by my grandparents in middle school while my younger siblings were homeschooled by my mother in elementary subjects. My Grandma passed away last month and I cherish the bond we created through those years writing poetry, giggling over recipes gone wrong, and sewing while she read history aloud! 

Q: What is one of your favorite memories from your childhood?

A: When I was about nine we moved into a Victorian fixer-upper full of wondrous nooks and crannies. Our full-sized, unfinished attic was a beloved backdrop from which our imaginations took flight. The floor was transformed into a stage. Old sheets became curtains and gooseneck lamps stood-in as stage lights. “Tiny Broadway” was born. My mother thrifted ample costumes and we spent weeks choreographing dances to show tunes. On Thanksgivings, when extended family visited, we would put on our grand performances! No lack of jazz hands. 

Q: Could you tell us about your inspiration/ choice to home school?

A: Because I was homeschooled (before attending a co-op, a private school, and a public school) I always saw this as an ideal. But, I wasn’t sure if -I- could do it. I worried about loneliness being at home all day and wasn’t sure if I had the passion or the natural gift for teaching.  

 About five years ago I was introduced to the Charlotte Mason philosophy by a friend and it painted a picture of how beautiful education could be. I resonated with how the role of a teacher in this philosophy is to lay out a feast of knowledge as a fellow participant not as an expert imparting facts to be memorized. How education is the lighting of a fire not the filling of a pail. I thought what a gift it would be to provide that sort of education to my children; a chance for them to love learning. I recognized early-on my son’s intense ADHD and foresaw the benefit of him learning more often outdoors in unconventional ways instead of being confined to a desk while being considered “bad” due to hyperactivity. I relished the freedom to travel and set our schedule without falling behind or needing approval. I wanted to have a hand in the worldview within topics being discussed. But mostly I longed to embrace this precious commodity of time with my children in a world where childhood passes so quickly. 

When I moved to TN three years ago, to be closer to family, my older sister Sarah threw-out the idea of us homeschooling together since our children are about the same ages (8, 7, and 4 currently). We began meeting four days a week at her home and it went so well that the next year we invited another friend and her three children to join. This past year we continued with our three family “co-op” where some subjects are together and others are separated by grade. Next year we are switching things up so we can all be in our own homes, but homeschooling together gave us the confidence that we could do this! 

Q: How did you begin hosting your art classes?

A: I couldn’t find an art class for my children so I mused - “I like art, what if I just started a class?” I have a philosophy called “I am the one” that if you recognize a need maybe that is a nudge that you are the one to meet it That was two years ago and it has been such a joy to see my artists develop. We meet weekly at my home both in and outside. I cap my classes at about 10-12 six to nine year olds I know through my homeschool spheres. Artists in the class have fluctuated due to changing schedules so I have had the opportunity to work with many budding creatives! 

I choose artists based on my fancy! We have explored many mediums (acrylic, watercolor, charcoal, clay, wire, paper cutting, ink, notebook creation, pastels, colored pencils, and spray paint) and artistic styles. In the future I may delve deeper into specific styles but for now we have been enjoying setting the net wide and embracing all! 

Q: How do you see homeschool art class growing in the future? 

 A: I see homeschoolers as valuing and uplifting the arts as necessities in education. Recently I have had numerous homeschool parents reach out to me asking if I have an art curriculum they could implement in their home or co-op. I was so honored! I decided, after I have recovered from baby boy due this summer, I will create a downloadable curriculum with the lessons I have come up with for my classes. Stay tuned! 

 Q: What would you tell a parent or family considering homeschool?

 A: I would encourage the parent to consider what they desire their family life to look and feel like. Then, research the different homeschooling philosophies (Charlotte Mason, Unschooling, Classical Conversations, Montessori, Unit Studies, etc). Your philosophy is like a river that will float you easily into a daily schedule and curriculum.

 If something isn’t clicking for you or your child, a great benefit of homeschooling is being able to pivot at ANY time! Two years ago my kids were wetting their math books with daily tears. We switched mid year and math became a favorite subject. My son is struggling with reading so next year we are trying out a new curriculum. Modify your teaching to your child’s educational style and don’t try to push them into a box. Don’t parent / teach out of fear when your child is struggling. Remember that there are many types of intelligences! 

 The greatest reward is also the biggest challenge: constant time with your children. There are very few breaks which can leave you feeling overstimulated. You are a “working” parent and a stay-at-home parent at the same time. So, it is important to find fellowship and support outside the home so when you have a discouraging day you have someone to talk to! If you have a spouse / coparent make sure you are on the same page about the demands of homeschooling and schedule in some breaks to get refreshed if you are feeling burnt out (such as a yearly retreat or just an hour or two by yourself on occasion). 

 Q: What’s one of the most important lessons or experiences you want your children to gain from you? 

 A: That God is good and His plans for us are good. We can trust Him with our obedience no matter what we face in life. There is no greater joy than what is found in His presence. 

 Q: What’s something you wish you heard more of as a kid? 

 A: I allowed fear to hold me back from going for things I wanted to pursue which limited me. I wish I could have learned earlier to try even though I might fail. To put myself out there and be brave. 

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