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7 Top Reasons Fine Arts in Your Homeschool is an Absolute Must Plus How To Do It! (E14 and E15)

Today we’ll be talking about the 7 Top Reasons Fine Arts in Your Homeschool is an Absolute Must plus how you can include Fine Arts inexpensively and effortlessly, even if you personally have no talent or training in music, art, dance, or theater. We’ll learn

  • what Fine Arts entails
  • what a Fine Arts credit is for homeschooled high school students
  • 7 reasons why every student should study Fine Arts every year they are homeschooled and why every homeschooled high schooler should get a Fine Arts credit on their high school transcript, regardless of what they’re planning to do after high school graduation.
  • And, we’ll wrap up with how you can include it even if you have no formal training in fine arts yourself

Who am I?

I thought I’d start with an introduction for those of you who aren’t familiar with me. My name is Gena Mayo, and I’ve been married for over 25 years. I have 8 children who are ages 23 down to 11. Four have graduated high school and two of those have graduated college and are successfully working now. This year I homeschooled my last four kids who are middle and high school aged. I have always homeschooled all my kids the entire way through, except my oldest who did his last 3 years of high school at a public school.

I’m also a music teacher. After earning a Bachelor’s of Music Education degree from Baylor University I received a Master’s degree in Music in vocal pedagogy (which is how to teach voice lessons) and an early childhood music and movement certification from Musikgarten. I taught for 5 years in the public school system (junior high choir and elementary general music) before I had my first child.

After becoming a mom, I taught Musikgarten “mommy and me” classes out of my home and eventually at our homeschool co-op, and other music education classes such as private and group voice lessons, musical theater classes, and music appreciation classes. One of my favorite ways to teach music is as a musical director for full-length musicals, which I’ve done every year for the past 8 years.

I began the website as a way to encourage and equip all homeschoolers to include music in their homeschool. My online course site provides super easy-to-use, click-and-go music lessons for students of all ages (preschool through adult). There is a free Sampler Course with 25 free lessons there if you’d like to try out some of the lessons at

What a Fine Arts Credit Is

Let’s start by defining what a Fine Arts credit is. Fine Arts is a type of elective class a student takes in elementary, middle, or high school.

Fine Arts as defined by is the following:

“The performing and visual arts, generally referred to as the fine arts, are unique and important in the school curriculum.”

“For purposes of developing this curricular area, we define the fine arts as consisting of the visual arts, dance, music, and theatre.”

“Although certain of the language arts may fall within a broad definition of art, they receive sufficient attention in the school curriculum through their inclusion in language courses.”

“All other courses, such as practical arts that include the word ‘art’ in their titles, serve different educational purposes, and they should not be considered as a part of the fine arts.”

That is certainly one way to look at it. But, many others in the education realm have differing definitions. I will at this point encourage you to research your own state’s (or country’s) individual laws regarding yearly curriculum per grade level and graduation requirements. Some states require Fine Arts and have a specific definition of what to include. Others don’t, so you have more freedom on how you will create your Fine Arts class for your student.

Ben with guitar for Fine Arts Credit in homeschool

Examples of subjects or activities that could be included in your Fine Arts class:

I love that Homeschool Fine Arts can cover such a wide variety of disciplines. This means that if you have a student who may be REALLY averse to some of these, he or she might be very excited about others!

  • Art lessons
  • Voice lessons
  • Piano, guitar, or any other instrument lessons
  • Church praise band or vocal group
  • Choir
  • Band
  • Orchestra
  • Music Ensemble (such as barbershop quartet, jazz ensemble, string quartet, or garage band)
  • Any dance lessons such as ballet, jazz, tap, ballroom, or Irish, or praise dance.
  • Drama productions
  • Drama camp
  • Filmmaking
  • Playing in or attending classical music concerts
  • Attending ballets, operas, plays, or musicals
  • Visiting art museums, art galleries,  and local art fairs
  • Music theory class
  • Music appreciation or music history class
  • Art appreciation or art history class
  • Music recording and producing
  • Virtual choir or virtual music ensemble participation
  • Photography
  • Drawing, painting, pottery, leatherworking, jewelry-making, ceramics, printmaking, and sculpting
  • Reading about and studying artists, composers, musicians, dancers, and actors
  • Video production
  • Script-writing, play-writing, or screen-writing
  • Audio editing
  • Poetry study and poetry recitation
  • 3-D design
  • Graphic art
  • Animation
  • Songwriting and music composition
  • Acting and pantomime
  • Musical theater class and/or performance
  • Technical theater and stagecraft
  • Improvisation (in theater, music, or dance)
  • Puppetry
  • Fashion design including costume history
  • Textile and fiber arts
  • Architecture history and design

So, you’ve probably noticed that I included way more disciplines and ideas in this list than the previous definition which just included visual arts, dance, music, and theatre.

How to Determine Credits in High School

Let’s take a minute to focus in on high school specifically and we’ll return to the younger grades in a bit.

When you are determining credits in your homeschool high school, it’s important to not “count” a class twice. For example, you’ll have to decide if your daughter’s Ballet Class will be your Fine Arts credit or your Physical Education credit. It can’t count for both. Another example: is Poetry Study going to be part of your Fine Arts credit or your English literature credit?

Furthermore, decide if you are counting this activity as an elective or an extracurricular activity. Again, it can’t be both. For example, you might want to list praise band at church as an extracurricular activity on their high school transcript instead of as part of a class. You get to decide. The elective class will earn them a grade and will be included in the total number of credits the student eventually earns for high school. An extracurricular activity is something that is listed separately to help define the student’s well-roundedness. It’s where you list job experience, internships, volunteer activities, and leadership positions. And, yes, it is allowed that the same activity such as performing in musicals or praise band can be counted as an elective one year, and an extracurricular activity the next year.

Credit Hours/Carnegie Units

A full-credit course contains 120-180 hours of work, and a half-credit course contains 60-90 hours. Why isn’t there an exact number of hours? Well, that would make it too easy for us, right? To research hours of a high school class further, do a search on the phrase “Carnegie unit.”

Personally, I tend to push for the upper level of hours for my own students since I think of classes this way: A school-year in the United States is typically thought of as 36 weeks. Students go to school 5 days a week and are in a high school class about an hour a day. So, 5 hours x 36 weeks = 180 hours. However, we also know that that is the absolute maximum time a class entails. Rarely do public school or private school students actually do a full hour per class for all 5 days a week for a full 36 weeks during a school year. And, that’s why you can choose to go lower when counting up hours for a homeschool high school class.

If you are creating your own class, log the hours you work on it and keep it as “proof”. If your class is from a high-school level textbook or a high-school level online course or a high-school level in-person class, you generally don’t need to log hours, unless you’re using that class as only just a part of your full fine arts credit. For example, one year my son took a singing class that met for two hours a week for 20 weeks. He was also taking private voice lessons and practicing a lot a home. So, I was able to add that outside class to his voice lessons and at-home practice to equal a full fine arts credit for the year.

How to Log Hours for your Homeschool High School Fine Arts Class

Next, let’s talk about how to log hours for your homeschool high school fine arts class. Logging hours is very simple to do. The student just needs to pick a method, stick to it, and write down every single time they work on the class. Here are a few ideas of where to log in their hours:

  • A spreadsheet app on their phone
  • A spreadsheet on the computer
  • Spiral notebook
  • Student high school homeschool planners often have a place in them to keep track of hours spent on a class
Log Hours Sheet for Homeschool High School Fine Arts Course example

What to Include on your Logging Hours Sheet

What should the student do during their Fine Arts class? And, what should they include when they are logging hours?

Have you ever heard of Bloom’s Taxonomy? It’s a classification system that expresses and explains different levels or categories of human cognition. There are six levels of thinking skills that increase from lower order to higher order.

The Bloom’s Taxonomy levels are Knowledge, Comprehension, Application, Analysis, Synthesis, and Evaluation.

Here are a few things that your student could do for each level:

For Knowledge: arrange, describe, identify, match, memorize

For Comprehension: classify, discuss, give examples, rewrite, summarize

For Application: demonstrate, dramatize, illustrate, practice, use

For Analysis: categorize, compare, contrast, experiment, model

For Synthesis: assemble, design, rearrange, reconstruct

For Evaluation: argue, explain, judge, justify, support

Do a Search for “Bloom’s Taxonomy Verbs” to get more details about it.

Using Bloom’s Taxonomy, you can come up with a list of activities for your homeschool high school Fine Arts course like this:

  • Read a music appreciation book (such as a music history or an art appreciation book along with your course to learn even more about the styles of the composers or artists.
  • Teach or narrate what you have learned to a parent, sibling, or friend.
  • Read or Recite a Poem out loud. Film yourself dramatizing it. Memorize it!
  • Write a 5-paragraph essay, a compare & contrast essay, or a descriptive essay every week based on the lessons studied.
  • Write a research paper based on a topic studied in your course
  • Compose a poem based on the style or form you studied in the course.
  • Give a speech, using one of the essays or your research paper as a basis. Include a multi-media presentation, such as with Google Slides. Or, make an animation video or photo slideshow to teach others what you just learned.
  • Go to a concert, a recital, an opera, or a musical to hear one of the composers or pieces studied in the course.
  • Learn to play or sing or act or dance something you studied.
  • Explore an art museum or art gallery to see art, hopefully from one of the artists you studied!
  • Compose a musical piece, create a piece of art, or choreograph a dance based on a style you studied in the course.

That’s just a list get you started. There is so much more you could do!

Bloom's Taxonomy list of verbs in learning
Bloom’s Taxonomy Verbs by Fractus Learning is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Why Every Student Should Get a Fine Arts Credit

Now, let’s head into discussing the 7 reasons why every student should study fine arts every year they are homeschooled and why every homeschooled high schooler should get a fine arts credit on their high school transcript, regardless of what they’re planning to do after high school graduation.

You might think I’m biased since I’m a music teacher, and it’s in my blood, but I do think that EVERY homeschooled student should study fine arts.

Yes, I know every student is different. They all have different goals for life after high school. Some will be heading to college. Others to a vocational school, then a job. Others to the military. And, others straight to marriage and family life.

Some students have special needs. Others are highly gifted.

These considerations all make a difference in what electives you teach during the elementary and middle school years and for what you choose for the high school courses a student will take when you’re planning out their four years of high school. Let me encourage you to consider, however, that no matter what your student’s goals or giftings are, all high schoolers should get a fine arts credit.

Number 1: Fine arts helps your student develop an integrated understanding of people and culture.

The fine arts tend to tie together the disciplines of history and culture. So, a course in fine arts helps your student develop an integrated understanding of people and culture. If the student is learning some music or art history, it’s fascinating to see how the arts and culture influence one another during each historical period.

Flamenco dance with scarf

Furthermore, have you noticed the many references to classical music and composers in books, movies, etc.? Studying music history or music appreciation will also help your students understand the integration of these various art forms.

Number 2: Fine arts can be really fun and easy.

Fine arts can be really fun and easy, for both the homeschool mom and the students! I’m not offended at all to think of a Fine Arts class as any “Easy A” type of class. We don’t want our kids to only to be taking hard courses all the time. Give your kids and yourself a breath of fresh air with a Fine Arts course!

Number 3. Fine arts gives students a chance to develop and express their creativity.

piano duet for homeschool fine arts

Number 4. Fine arts helps students with their mental health.

Music and art therapists have known for years that music and art assist in improving mental and other areas of health. Read more about music helping improve mental health here.

Number 5. They might discover they have a passion for something they didn’t realize before.

When I first went to college I had planned to major in music but never pictured myself teaching it and especially never considered conducting a choir or orchestra. But, when I took my first conducting class, I realized how much I enjoyed it and was actually naturally talented at it

Number 6. Can be a way to connect with and serve others in the community.

Connecting with others and serving others in the community. Something they can do for the rest of their lives and make some extra money on the side.

Fun and Creative Ways to Experience Music with your Kids During the Summer
My son Ben performing live music at a restaurant.

Number 7. Colleges want to see uniqueness on the high school transcript.

It’s hard for colleges to choose between students who have exactly the same GPA and courses in high school and SAT or ACT scores. “Extras” play a big difference when they’re deciding admittance and scholarships. So, it’s a great idea to include some fine arts that your students enjoy for this! Perform in a play, volunteer as a DJ at a homeschool dance, enter an art fair, organize a hymn sing at a nursing home, or create some digital music and upload it to Spotify!

A Greek tragedy (The Trojan Women) students performed at our homeschool co-op

How You Can Include Fine Arts in Your Homeschool Even if You Have No Formal Training in Fine Arts Yourself

Now that I’ve convinced you that you need to include fine arts in your homeschool, you might be wondering how?

I can answer that question, too!

First, think through the things you’re already including and recognize them for the educational activities they are. Do you explore art museums or art fairs? Do you watch musicals at home as a family? What about playing classical music during lunchtime? Do you have your kids memorize poetry?

Second, find out what’s available in your community. Do you have a local homeschool co-op that provides music lessons or group classes? Is there a musical theater organization you can join? Does a public school or private school in your area allow homeschoolers to join their choir, band, orchestra, drama, or art classes?

Third, search out options online. Because of the shut-downs a few years ago, there are more opportunities for online fine arts than ever before. You can find private teachers in every single fine arts discipline from an acting coach to a drawing teacher to a voice teacher to a French horn teacher. If live (over Zoom) private lessons are too expensive, find a pre-made online course or video course. I have a number of different options for all ages from preschool through high school over at

Fourth, use your own creativity in developing the type of fine arts you’d like to include in your high school. Maybe you focus a whole year just on one discipline, such as learning to sing folk songs. Then, the next year you might join an art membership and learn to do chalk pastels or paint. Then, the following year, you learn to play the guitar.

You don’t have to be skilled in fine arts because you can find others to help you in this area! I personally love that I don’t have to teach every single thing in my homeschool. And, if money is tight, you can barter or trade with the other teacher. For example, I’ve known families who traded science or writing instruction or even house cleaning or making meals with a piano or violin teacher so their kids could take private instrument lessons. And, be sure to search out the online class options. More are being added all the time!

Q&A about Homeschool High School Fine Arts from Homeschool Moms

Lastly, because I have taught on this topic before, I’d like to end with a Q&A session with questions I’ve been asked before. And, if you have a question that isn’t included, be sure to reach out because I’d be happy to answer it for you!

  • What all can count as fine arts? Is this making art or just art appreciation, etc.? 
  • Another question asked was: How do you define different art courses for credits? For example a drawing course vs artist study.

Yes! Making art and studying art appreciation can both count as Fine Arts!

Maybe the student spent 90 hours on just learning to draw and creating her drawings. You could call that a Drawing class and give it a half-credit. If a student worked all year on a variety of art creating such as sculpture, sketching, painting, drawing, and printmaking, then you could call it an Art class and give it a full credit. Or, if the student spent a semester studying art appreciation through picture study, then you can call it an Art Appreciation class and give it a half-credit.

On the other hand, if you have a wide variety of activities (for example, 50 hours of piano lessons, 50 hours of working on a drawing course, 50 hours of artist study, and 20 hours of composer study), then it all can be added together and called a Fine Arts class for a full credit.

  • What advice would you give moms of middle school children that can help prepare them better for HS years as we implement living books as part of their education as opposed to set curriculum?

Include composer study, picture (artist) study, and poetry reading from the very beginning elementary years! Read living book biographies of the great composers, artists, and poets. See my “Best Composers to Study” list below or check out the courses at

  • Next question: I need “fine arts for logical thinkers.” My boys are anti anything artsy or musical or drama-ish so I need to make it look not so fluffy. Music is Math, type things!!

Here are a couple of ideas.

I wrote an Intro to Shakespeare class for my homeschool co-op called 10 Weeks of Shakespeare: Introductory Course for 7th – 12th Grades that incorporates a super fun book which is actually a script called William Shakespeare’s Star Wars. The description of the book says, “Experience the Star Wars saga reimagined as an Elizabethan drama penned by William Shakespeare himself, complete with authentic meter and verse, and theatrical monologues and dialogue by everyone from Darth Vader to R2D2.”

My students, none of whom were really excited about studying Shakespeare, had a lot of fun with this class where we acted out a scene together and watched an online performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

10 Weeks of Shakespeare - An Introductory Course for 7th-12th Grades

Another idea is to look at the computer-driven fine arts ideas from the list above, such as video and audio production and editing, animation, and 3-D design. One of my sons who is now working as a mechanical engineer really enjoyed working on graphic design and photography when he was in high school. Hopefully, your boys will see something on the list that excites them!

  • Should we be considering adding college-level fine art courses for those who want to go into fine arts?

Yes, absolutely! If your student wants to pursue a degree in college, no matter what it is, start a class during high school that will complement that course study. For example, take an advanced or an AP Art History class in high school if the student wants to go to art school. Take an advanced or an AP Music Theory if they want to be a music major. You can find online versions of those classes. I have an Advanced Music Theory course based on the AP Music Theory or College Freshman-level Music Theory course inside my Premium Tier of the Music in Our Homeschool Plus membership. Another option is to take a class at a community college so your child is actually getting college credit for it.

Perform in plays and musicals if they want to be a theater major.

  • Question about Portfolio prep – how to go about finding help in that area as they prepare for interviews and portfolio reviews (assuming they want to pursue a fine arts degree)?

For those who aren’t aware of what a portfolio is, let me start there. It’s basically a sampling of your work. So, an artist might have a portfolio that contains some paintings, drawings, and sketches. A musician or actor might have a digital portfolio that contains video and audio recordings of performances.

I would first contact the colleges or art schools you’re interested in going to and get their specific advice. Also, ask students (and their moms) who have recently started in these schools what they did that they felt worked well for them and what they would have done differently.

  • How do I or can I count classes I am paying for outside of the home in theatre arts? I have a son taking pretty challenging acting classes as well as performing via his acting conservatory.

Log every hour! You might have multiple classes you can count. For example, many of my high schoolers have participated in our local musical theater organization. They take a class every week during the school year and do as many as three full-scale musicals a year. I have been able to count this work as both Theater Arts (which is a specific Fine Arts elective credit) and Dance (a Physical Education credit) because there were enough hours involved that didn’t overlap. (In other words, I didn’t count the same work for both the Fine Arts and P.E. credits.) Depending on how much time your son spends on his classes and practicing, you might have enough hours to count it as 2 full credits a year.

  • I’m getting ready to put my upcoming 9th grader’s high school curriculum together, and this is a hard area for me because my daughter has zero interest in anything that from what I researched is even considered fine arts!! I’m at a loss….I feel overwhelmed with this whole high school phase! What do I even do?

Sometimes, we as the homeschool teacher have to make our kids do something they don’t particularly want to do. Did my daughter with dyslexia who aspired to be a nail tech want to take Algebra? No. Does my son who loves all things computer coding want to read a Shakespeare play? No. Will I still make them do it? Yes.

If your state doesn’t require something, you can decide whether to include it or not in your daughter’s high school curriculum. However, I would encourage you to make sure her education is fully rounded out. Check out the Fine Arts list that I’ve included below and see if something sparks her interest. If not, have her pick something anyway!

  •  I just looked at our state’s requirements & Fine Arts aren’t specifically required. However, I’m raising a girl who loves art, especially drawing. She doesn’t enjoy learning about art though! She’s got a true artist’s spirit & likes to create under her own inspiration without a lot of ‘rules” and suggestions. I have had her use Artistic Pursuits, however & it’s been fine. Other Fine Arts can get kind of pricey when buying curriculum, equipment & classes (ie Pottery) Wondering if you have any tips for creating an Art Rich high school plan without breaking the bank.

Oh, my, this is a hard one! Applied arts (private music lessons, art lessons and supplies for creating art, dance lessons, and theater lessons) can certainly be pricey because often the student is studying under a master teacher. There is always a variety, though. I would search online for a teacher or class that fits your price range.

I would also still encourage her to study great artists of the past. It will help her understand her own art better if she knows how others created theirs. If she pursues art in college, art history will be required. It would be helpful for her not to be starting from square one at that point.


So, let me end today with an encouragement to find something to bring joy to your homeschool. Have fun with fine arts and be sure to ask me if you have any questions. I’m here to help!

Video Version of “7 Top Reasons Fine Arts in Your Homeschool is an Absolute Must Plus How To Do It!”

Podcast Episode of “7 Top Reasons Fine Arts in Your Homeschool is an Absolute Must Plus How To Do It!”

Part 1:

Find the transcript here.

Part 2:

Find the transcript here.

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