Hands-On Homeschooling for the Hands-Off Mom

I have a confession.

I’m a “hands-off” mom.

I do not like unnecessary messes. I do not like clutter. I do not like half-completed projects all over my house, markers without lids or dried play-doh in my carpet.

I definitely do not like papier-mache’.

And yes, I homeschool. Furthermore, my curriculum, Tapestry of Grace (ToG), excels at fantastic art projects and “hands-on” activities. I’ve never seen more beautiful art books and exciting activity suggestions. Many more-creative moms are drawn to Tapestry’s “hands-on” qualities. I, on the other hand, once perused the pages of the art books and felt overcome by guilt and gloom. “Why am I purchasing these books when I dislike art?” I asked myself.

My 9th grader with her display of the Hebrew alphabet.

I’m here to liberate any ToG moms who, like me, do not fit the homeschool-moms-must-like-art stereotype. You don’t have to like art to be a homeschooling mother. I’ve noticed, however, that quite often moms such as I are blessed with children who are as “hands-on” as we are “off!” My children THRIVE on art activities, clutter, half-completed projects, markers, play-doh and anything messy. Creative and artistic, they learn best through kinesthetic activity.

What’s a mom, particularly a hands-off-Tapestry-of-Grace mom, to do? My children need creative activities. This need, for eleven years and counting of homeschooling, has stretched me and put me a little out of my “hands-off” comfort zone. I still am not naturally a “hands-on” mom, but I’ve learned a few art-implementing coping strategies over the years that I am delighted to share:

  1. Buy the Tapestry of Grace art books anyway. Trust me, you will be glad you own them.

    Scratchboard pharaoh - no mess involved!

  2. Consider outsourcing. There is no law anywhere that states, “Homeschooling mothers must do everything themselves.” Would an older teen be interested in leading a weekly/monthly art time? Is there an artistically gifted mother with whom you could barter services?
  3. Join forces with another family. This truly can make all the difference. What may be considered drudgery alone is delightful with friends, both for children and moms. If two families alternate hosting art day, that is half the mess and twice the fun! I once met weekly with a mom just to do the lap books. This set-aside time became a highlight of my upper-grammar’s week.
  4. Purchase some simple art supplies – “How to Draw” books, Sculpey clay, oversized paper, Prisma-color pencils, scratch board, and markers. Often our children can be satisfied with a not-so-messy activity and, with the right supplies, they can create their own art projects.

    Salt map of Egypt.

  5. Shop Goodwill. My children LOVE historical costumes. I’ve found 50’s skirts, colonial mob-caps, lace- up vests, Renaissance dresses and many other gems at used clothing stores. Often, this satisfies that need for creativity. My children have written many costume-inspired plays.
  6. Start small. Really, the blogosphere is full of amazing, hands-on Tapestry projects. They are impressive. However, every week there are many projects to choose from. Avoid the messiest or most difficult if it stresses you. Many of Tapestry’s activities are quite simple and make little mess. We’ve strung beads, painted rocks, etched designs on scratchboard and drawn pictures with colored pencils. Easy (even for me!)
  7. Plan. Pick a day with little on the calendar for art projects. They do take time. I don’t want to come home from swimming practice and have to clear the table of toilet-paper tubes and hot glue before dinner.

    A ziggurat my daughter made in her spare time with paint, scissors and a cardboard box.

  8. Resist sentimentality at the expense of clutter. Once a project is complete, display it, take a picture and then throw it away. Yes, I am serious. If I didn’t do this, I’d have to rent a storage building to hold everything as I don’t have room for salt maps, clay figures, and cardboard box ziggurats (x 6 children) in my house! Of course, I may resist pitching projects until after they’re displayed at our end-of-unit celebrations.
  9. Use art time to motivate. My children view art like “dessert for school.” It is a reward for work well done.
  10. Do the art. It doesn’t have to be every week, but pick some projects, plan a day, and smile as you watch your child learn by doing.

Lap book time with friends... A highly-anticipated weekly event.

Only my dearest friends know that “hands-on” isn’t my forte’. This is because we’ve produced some stunning creative projects at the Jobe Academy. My children are blessed with a creativity gene. My older girls decorate cakes and sew. They knit. They search the internet and assemble projects for children they babysit. They paint, draw and cartoon. My oldest daughter choreographs beautiful dances. My son manifests his creativity in building. He loves robotics and legos. I smile as I see their God-given gifts developing, and I am thankful. I am thankful that a “hands-off” mom like me is blessed with creative “hands-on” children.

And I am encouraged to keep getting out the art for my grammar children…

…Well, except the papier mache’ 🙂

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5 Responses to “Hands-On Homeschooling for the Hands-Off Mom”

  1. Cindy Says:

    That is such a relief. I’ve got more failed papier mache projects to my credit than I care to think about. (OK, only 4, but really FOUR! in just a couple of years!) I’m not artsy. I’m barely even able to draw a stick figure. We still have art. It’s one of my unschooling areas.
    When it comes to some things, it’s best to just let the kids do what they want, or not do anything at all. So far, that’s meant little in the way of art, because my oldest is just as imaginative as his mother. I expect that to change as the little ones get older. My daughter displays some of her Nana’s creativity, so maybe she’ll be the artsy one around here. Until then, I have no guilt about our lack of crafts. None at all. (Lying.)

    Thanks for the tips and encouragement. 🙂

  2. Tina Says:

    Thank you, Cindy, for encouraging me by commenting.

    Nathan has never asked me to get out the papier mache’. The girls, on the other hand… oh my!

  3. Heather Says:

    Ahhh, this so me! I have VERY hands on children. To the point that they really don’t like the sit down stuff at all most of the time. I, on the other hand, much prefer just to do the sit down style. Read a book, write about it. Who wants to take the time to get all that stuff out and make a bigger mess than what’s already staring me in the face???? My kids, that’s who! 🙂 I have found over time that my children are much happier about the the “yucky” stuff (as they would call it) when it’s mixed with some fun hands on. You are exactly right when you say the “THRIVE” on it.

  4. Megan Says:

    That’s the most beautiful salt map I’ve ever seen! How did you do it? Is it on a canvas? Ours always dry too much and start cracking. Please do a tutorial on how to do a salt map like that! : )

  5. Tina Says:

    Thank you so much, Megan! I have to admit – true to my suggestions, I did not make that salt map so I truly have no idea. We teamed with several other families and formed a fellowship group for ToG, and our art teacher facilitated the map making. I wish I could take credit. (Well… no, not really… too much like paper mache’!)

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