In Which An Apple Study Begins…

The Benefits of Incorporating Chalk Pastel Art into our Homeschool

Chalk Pastel Art not only brings the beauty of fine painting, it also weaves together a wide array of rich learning, unfolding awe-inspiring masterpieces for my son to lay hold of.

How fun is it to paint exploding, colorful, rumbling volcanoes with hot lava running down the sides of the mountain?! What about taking our magic painter finger to take us off to far lands where the mighty long necks roamed the earth so many years ago? How about traveling back in time to visit the very first president who wore wigs (my children thought that was funny), then off to meet Abraham Lincoln, the man who wore a towering black hat?

And what valiant knight isn’t smitten with imagination? Those courageous ones who swarmed the tall castle gates with swords, ready for a fierce battle against the enemy! And that honorable queen, clothed in flowing scarlet, diligently awaited the arrival of the mighty Aslan with delicate yellow flowers intricately placed in her long, brown hair. She and the four brave kings traveled through the Wardrobe, visiting the the frosty lamp post, awaiting tea with Mr. Tumnus. My children excitedly shared these imaginative Narnia adventures through a combination of rich literature and the fruitful learning Chalk Pastel Art provides.

With Nana, my artists have also explored Noah’s Ark, splitting the Red Sea with Moses, taken joy in that holy night of our Savior’s birth, and celebrated the risen Lord. For Valentine’s Day, they drew bright red hearts and participated in a live virtual event, drawing the Valentine woodpecker!

Incorporating art into our homeschool this year has secured such a special place in the hearts of my children, especially in the heart of my son with learning differences. As a mom of a child with special needs, I am often searching for programs that best meet his learning style. With the abundance of materials that are offered, this task can become quite overwhelming. Finding courses that work and meet his needs is like discovering sunken treasure. My son absorbs information best with a multisensory approach, consistency, and repetition. I have witnessed the benefits of using chalk pastels with Nana through the multisensory approach their courses provide and the consistency in art lessons. Below I have explained how Chalk Pastel Art has benefited my son in so many ways.

Encourages Receptive and Expressive Language

At four, my son was diagnosed with Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS), a neurological speech disorder that affects the planning of speech and all the necessary steps needed to produce intelligible speech. Due to his limited language, at times, I do not know everything he understands receptively, meaning the language he understands when someone is speaking to him or giving directions. Art lessons through Chalk Pastel Art help assess the instructions he is understanding and the language he doesn’t understand. Something that may seem like a simple instruction for most children such as, “press lightly,” “try using the sharp point of your pastel instead of the side,” may present challenges for a child with receptive language disorder. For example, during a lesson, Nana may give a gentle instruction to “turn the chalk pastel on its side”. If my son doesn’t understand that the chalk pastel needs to turn completely on its side, I know he receptively doesn’t understand this directive. This presents a fruitful opportunity for the development in his receptive language. This is the beauty of art lessons. My son has the ability to learn, it just doesn’t arrive as easily and quickly. A combination of my son watching Nana and a little extra guidance, allows him to be nurtured in this area. Expressive language is the language he can verbalize or “express”. This and building vocabulary intertwine with one another. Many art lessons he completes independently, but there are lessons we complete together. This paves the way for one-on-one time together and grants an opportunity for discussion. Together, my son and I are able to discuss what we are painting. Isaiah repeats many of the words Nana says, building his vocabulary in a wonderful way, without realizing it. This is such a beautiful way for him to express himself through language and art.

Increases Confidence

Academics isn’t easy for my son. He works really hard at it. Most things don’t come easy for him. Something as simple as talking for my other children is a breeze, while my son has struggled with it all of his life. This can wear on a mom’s heart. Chalk Pastel Art has offered an effective way for my son to blossom in so many of the areas that present challenges for him. This is done in such a pleasant and enjoyable way. The lessons are gentle, timely, and colorful. When he feels painting something is hard, Nana’s tender voice and encouraging words of, “You are an artist”, “This is your painting,” spurs him on. As his siblings and dad admiringly look upon his works of art and give many compliments, he is encouraged. When he works through the areas that challenge him, he sees the fruit of hard work and the stunning art he creates. He is brimming with smiles and is joyful of his work!

Inspires Following Multiple Step Instructions

For a child with learning disabilities and receptive language challenges, following multiple step instructions can be difficult. Often times, words may need repeating and instructions given in more explicit, smaller chunks. Through art lessons with Nana, we are able to listen and watch, then push the pause button if needed. There are times when we push pause just to practice a technique on a separate sheet of paper. This helps my son to understand better which techniques to use or whether he should use the point of his pastel or the side. Watching Nana benefits me in a way that I can better serve my son as a homeschooling mom. This is so accommodating for me because I am learning how to use chalk pastels right along with my son. When he doesn’t understand the directions, I learn from Nana first. Then I can show my son how to paint, repeat any directives from Nana, and if needed, provide more instruction. My son has grown in this area so much. Looking at his first paintings of Noah’s Ark and a blue jay, almost a year ago, I see progress. With practice and consistency, following multiple step instructions improve over time. Lessons through Chalk Pastel Art inspires my son to listen to instructions in such a fun and engaging way!

Promotes a Multisensory Approach to Learning

My son learns best when visual, auditory, and tactile learning are weaved together. Many of the lessons offered through Chalk Pastel Art correspond with the topics and books we study in our homeschool. Nana not only teaches art; she elaborates on the subjects she paints. For example, for our American History lessons, we studied the Pilgrims. Chalk Pastel Art offers art lessons pertaining to early America. During the lessons, my son was able to hear and listen (auditory) about the Pilgrims through Nana, watch her paint (visual), and draw using the pastels (tactile)! When all complete, the painting resulted in a fine picture, which provided a visual (visual again) relevant to the lesson in our homeschool studies. “You Drew It, Then You Knew It!”

Nurtures Fine Motor Skills, Coordination, and Cognition

The process of planning and hand-eye coordination are all bundled together in the art lessons provided by Chalk Pastel Art. While creating works of art through chalk pastels, my son has discovered that the way he holds the chalk pastels creates a certain effect. This requires careful planning. For example, painting with the pointed edge of a pastel creates a different outcome than when painting holding the entire pastel sideways. Also, my son has learned that different strokes and motions produce diverse results. The outcome of painting in a circular motion will lend a different effect than using upward or downward strokes. This is the same for using his fingers to blend colors and create shadows. Painting fine lines and straight lines (when needed) inspires working slowly and paying attention to intricate detail. This all exercises the area of the brain that uses fine motor skills! My son now keeps a sketch book. He loves to draw in it. Before Chalk Pastel Art, he only drew simple circles and people with very basic features. Currently, he is drawing beyond circles and including more details. I believe this is the fruit of art lessons through Chalk Pastel Art. He even places his initials in the very bottom corner of every piece of artwork he produces, just like Nana has taught him!

This is beyond what a mom could ask for. I look at his paintings, I look at his smile, and I am in awe of his accomplishments. I am so thankful, and I am so proud. I thoroughly enjoy the time I am allowed with my son and all of my children through art lessons. I truly enjoy the learning experience and the growth in my son and within myself. The fond memories I will cherish forever.

To see all the wonderful lessons Chalk Pastel Art offers, be sure to follow them on Instagram and visit their website!

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