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How Chalk Pastel Art Has Benefited My Son with Learning Differences

Incorporating Chalk Pastel Art into our homeschool adventures this year has secured such a special place in the hearts of my children. Through the encouraging lessons with Nana, my artists have 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. We’ve incorporated chalk pastel art with our early America history lessons, setting sail on the Mayflower, painting a visual map of the Pilgrims’ expedition. My honorable queen and brave kings traveled through the Wardrobe to a far-off land called Narnia, painting the frosty lamp post and mighty lion, Aslan. My valiant knights, smitten with imagination, courageously drew swords and shields, pretending to battle evil, all through the combination of lovely art and the substance of rich literature. This type of fruitful learning through Chalk Pastel Art has proven beneficial for all of my children, especially for my son with special needs. I want to share with you just how chalk pastel art has benefited my son with learning differences.

How Chalk Pastel Art Has Benefited My Son with Learning Differences. Fruitful learning through Chalk Pastel Art has proven beneficial for all of my children, especially for my son with special needs.

How Chalk Pastel Art Has Benefited My Son with Learning Differences

As a mom of a child with special needs, I am often searching for courses or activities that best meet his learning style. With the abundance of materials that are offered, this task can become quite overwhelming. Finding programs that work and meet his needs in so many different ways, is like gold. He absorbs information best with a multi-sensory approach, consistency, and repetition.  I have witnessed the benefits of using chalk pastels with Nana, by watching my special needs son grow through the consistency and repetition of art lessons. Below I have included and explained how the use of chalk pastels has helped my son in so many ways.

Chalk Pastels Encourage Fine Motor Skills, Coordination, and Cognition. How Chalk Pastel Art Has Benefited My Son with Learning Differences

Chalk Pastels Encourage Fine Motor Skills, Coordination, and Cognition

Using chalk pastels encourages fine motor skills, coordination, and cognition. While creating works of art with chalk pastels, my son has discovered that the way he holds the chalk pastels creates a certain effect.  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! The process of planning and hand-eye coordination are all bundled together in just one art lesson!

Multi-sensory Approach to Learning. How Chalk Pastel Art Has Benefited My Son with Learning Differences

Multi-sensory Approach to Learning

Art supports a multi-sensory approach to learning. My son learns the best when visual, auditory, and tactile learning are woven 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 with chalk pastels; she also elaborates on the subjects she paints.  For example, in our homeschool, for our American History lessons, we studied the pilgrims. Chalk Pastel Art offers art lessons pertaining to Early America. My son was able to hear and listen (auditory) to a lesson about the pilgrims through Nana, watch her paint (visual), and draw it using chalk pastels (tactile)! When all done, the painting resulted in a fine picture, which provided a visual (visual again) relevant to the lesson in our own homeschool studies. “You Drew It, Then You Knew It!”

Art Lessons Improve Receptive and Expressive Language

Art lessons have improved 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 helps assess the instructions he is understanding and the language he doesn’t understand. During a lesson, Nana may give a gentle instruction to “turn the chalk pastel on its side”. If my son doesn’t understand that he needs to turn the pastel “on its side”, I know he receptively doesn’t understand this directive. This presents a fruitful opportunity for 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 guidance showing him how to hold the pastel, allows him to be nurtured in this area!  I have witnessed this time and time again.

Expressive language is the language he can verbalize or “express”. This and building vocabulary intertwine with one another. There are art lessons he completes independently, but many of the lessons, he and I complete together. Not only does this pave the way for one-on-one time together, it also grants an opportunity for discussion. My son and I are able to discuss what we are painting and the lesson. I often hear Isaiah repeat many of the words Nana says and he asks a lot of questions.  This is such a wonderful avenue for my son to express himself through the beautiful combination of art and language.

Art Lessons Encourage Multiple Step Instructions

Art lessons encourage 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 virtual art lessons with Nana, both my son and I are able to listen and watch, then push pause if needed. This is so accommodating for me because I am learning chalk pastels right along with my son. Watching Nana benefits me in a way that I can better serve my son as a homeschooling mom. 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. I have watched my son grow in this area so much. When I look at his first painting of Noah’s Ark almost a year ago, I see progress. With practice and consistency, following multiple step instructions improves over time. And art lessons inspire my son to listen to instructions in such a fun and engaging way!

Art Boosts Confidence

Art boosts my son’s 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 look at his work 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 works of art he creates. He is brimming with smiles and is joyful of his work! 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. And I am so proud, and I am so thankful. I thoroughly enjoy the time I am allowed with my son through art lessons.  I truly enjoy the learning experience and the growth. The fond memories I will treasure forever.

Chalk Pastel Art not only brings the beauty of fine painting, it also weaves together a wide array of rich learning, creating such an awe-inspiring masterpiece in my son.

Incorporating Chalk Pastel Art into our homeschool adventures this year has secured such a special place in the hearts of my children. This type of fruitful learning through Chalk Pastel Art has proven beneficial for all of my children, especially for my son with special needs. I want to share with you just how chalk pastel art has benefited my son with learning differences.

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Jamie is the author of A Brown Bear’s Language Arts Study (coming soon!), a literature-inspired homeschool mom of seven, and a former educator. She enjoys a bookshelf bursting with colorful picture books  and children’s stories of all genres. Indulging in a read aloud with all of her children around her is one of Jamie’s favorite moments of her days. Be sure to find Jamie on Instagram so you will be the first to know when her language arts study is available and to be encouraged by all her learning adventures with her wonderful family.

Jamie is the author of A Brown Bear’s Language Arts Study (coming soon!), a literature-inspired homeschool mom of seven, and a former educator. She enjoys a bookshelf bursting with colorful picture books  and children’s stories of all genres. Indulging in a read aloud with all of her children around her is one of Jamie’s favorite moments of her days. Be sure to find Jamie on Instagram so you will be the first to know when her language arts study is available and to be encouraged by all her learning adventures with her wonderful family.

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Why Adding Art To Homeschool History Makes All The Difference

My children have naturally enjoyed our homeschool history studies since they were very young.

They love the stories, the adventure, and the thought of foreign lands.

Yes, history has always been a subject with less resistance and more interest for my children. But the truth is, as they got a bit older, it became clear that in order to truly understand and retain the lesson, my boys needed something more.

adding art to homeschool history

At first, I thought we needed more structure to our learning. I added quizzes and worksheets. I bought an expensive textbook. I tried all the things that a more formal school setting does to teach history.

None of it worked. In fact, not only did my boys retain less than before, they began to dislike history and avoid it.

It was only when I decided to go with what I knew they would enjoy, that our homeschool history study came alive.

I added art.

It may seem simple, and I guess it is, but adding I Drew It And Then I Knew It to our history lessons was the solution I was looking for.

As the years have passed, I’ve had time to think about why adding art to our homeschool history was so effective. This is what I’ve learned.

adding art to homeschool history

Why Adding Art To History Works So Well

1. Adding Art Increases Attention Span

One of the most immediate benefits I discovered when adding art to our homeschool history was my boys’ increased ability to focus and sustain attention for longer periods of time.

For my youngest, who really struggles with attention issues, the multi-sensory experience of creating his own art work as we discussed (or listened to Nana discuss) a particular topic in history, made a significant difference. For the first time, he was able to work through an entire subject without needing a break or leaving the table.

For my oldest, not having the distraction of his younger brother helped him focus as well.

2. Art Supports Comprehension

Studies have repeatedly shown that adding a multi-sensory component to any learning increases overall comprehension.

It seems we have proved this to be true in my own home as well.

When we added art to history, my children seemed to pick up on the main topic of the lesson, and comprehend the more nuanced details, much faster than when we just read about it.

I have since learned that this is true for most children and even adults – adding something hands-on to any new learning increases overall engagement and comprehension.

adding art to homeschool history

3. Adding Art Increases Retention

One of the greatest benefits I’ve found to adding art to our learning is how much it increases my sons’ overall retention of the information.

This makes sense to me, even as I consider my own school experience. When I look back on my learning, the assignments and lessons I remember most are the ones that involved some sort of multisensory experience.

The same is true for my children. Not only do they retain the information more fully, they are more easily able to recall what they’ve learned when we add art to the lesson.

4. Adding Art Makes Learning More Fun!

This is an easy win and one that I think needs to be highlighted.

Adding art to our history study also added in an element of fun. It brought back that love of history that my boys had from the very beginning.

Art decreases any resistance they have towards the lesson, and allows all of us to connect in a way that is not only education, but enjoyable.

It’s a win-win.

Adding Art To Homeschool History Makes All The Difference

Because adding art to our homeschool history has been such a success, I’m grateful for all that You Are An Artist offers. It makes my prep work super easy and allows me to learn right alongside my kiddos as Nana teaches us all.

(You can also read all about how we also incorporate art into our homeschool science HERE.)

Shawna Wingert is a special education teacher turned writer, speaker and consultant. She is also a homeschooling mom of two brilliant boys with differences and special needs.  Shawna has written four books for parents – Everyday Autism, Special Education at Home, Parenting Chaos and her latest, Homeschooling Your Child With Special Needs. She helps parents of children with learning differences, behavioral challenges and special needs every day at DifferentByDesignLearning.com.