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Catholic Homeschool Articles, Advice & Resources

Music, Art and Physical Education – Sharing How We Do It


We asked Seton families how they use music, art, and physical education in their school and they shared fun and practical ways you may want to incorporate.

In the Seton curriculum, the subjects of music, art, and physical education are entirely parent-graded. Supplemented by suggestions in your lesson plans and Seton’s beautiful art books, parents have the freedom and flexibility to decide how to pursue these subjects.

It may feel easy to gloss over these subjects, but studies prove that children who have a solid fine arts background do better on standardized tests. “Multiple research studies support the notion that students who engage in the study of the arts perform better in math, reading, and writing. The Arts Education Partnership analyzed the results of 62 studies which revealed that students who study music have increased achievement and proficiency in math. Reading and cognitive development were found to increase, as were verbal SAT scores.” (Public School Review December 2020, Grace Chen)

Clearly, art, music, dance, theatre, and performance are all integral parts of a well-educated person. Aside from the academic incentive, as Catholics we know that the pursuit of beauty is innate and a gift from God. These subjects train our children to see beauty, to know the good of it, and to give credit to the author of all things truly beautiful.

How We  Do It

In my home, we have approached these subjects in a variety of ways depending on the child’s interest, ability, and my workload. It is important to take mom’s workload into account when planning for extra activities. Too often parents are enthused about joining a sport or signing up for musical theatre only to be tearing their hair out a few months later due to an abundance of practices and commitments. Pursuing any of these subjects outside your home can add a great deal of beauty and enjoyment to homeschooling but it should not add too much extra stress or burdens.

I have always found it helpful to hear how other families enjoy these subjects. So we asked some Seton moms to share how they incorporate them into their homeschool.


We are a musical family. One of my older daughters is an exceptionally talented musician and we began private flute lessons for her at the age of six. In the same way some families pursue competition sports, we pursued music opportunities for her. She played in several orchestras, some quite prestigious, and even played at Carnegie Hall twice. She eventually majored in music education in college and now teaches at a lovely Catholic school. Pursuing those opportunities were time-consuming and expensive but paid off in both scholarships and a vocation to teach. Other children in my home have taken violin, piano, flute, guitar, and voice lessons as well as having to serve two years in the church choir. – Mary Ellen Barrett

Theresia Granados teaches music theory, ear training, and basic piano as well as using their gaming system for guitar lessons. That’s making good use of resources! Some students in Leah Ehrichs’ homeschool take violin in a co-op while others take private piano lessons.

Dana Tafel Nalls shared, “They all play an instrument. I’m proficient in woodwinds, so the majority stuck with those (flute/clarinet/saxophone). Two take guitar lessons (one acoustic, one electric). We listen and discuss different genres and artists from chant to modern.”

Physical Education

Physical fitness is extremely important for young bodies as well as young minds. Fresh air and exercise are the cure for many an ill in society and children should always be encouraged to be up and moving when they are not working at school.

To add gym to our homeschool we signed the children up for karate at a private dojo at which a friend was a member. It was close to our home and affordable. The kids learned and enjoyed the study of Tong Soo Do so much that my husband joined them and this past summer he and my oldest son passed their black belt tests. My younger children are well on their way to that goal.

Other ways we pursued physical fitness were hiking, running, fitness videos, swimming, Irish step dance, contra dance, and ballet. – M.E.B.

Little toddler boy working out at the indoor gym excercise

Sheila Drummer pursues gym in an unusual and delightful way. “We are currently enrolled in an advanced aerial silks program, think Cirque de Soleil with trapeze, hoop, and silks. It’s P.E., music, and art all rolled into one. “

Jennifer Gonzalez’s fourteen and fifteen-year-olds are in Civil Air Patrol, which has monthly physical fitness nights and quarterly P.E. tests. In between, they work out at the local YMCA.

Suzan Forestello von Stultz has had her child taking tennis lessons for four years and last year included horseback riding lessons.

Katie Peter’s children take Tae Kwon Do three times a week.


For art, in addition to our Seton Art books I have used both Pinterest and co-op classes to teach the children some artistic techniques. I have absolutely no talent at this but two of my children have an interest and talent in drawing so I added as many art projects as I could to their weekly lessons. – M.E.B.

Dana Tafel Nalls has a very creative way of teaching art: she uses cooking (presentation) and baking (decoration). Her children have also taken pottery classes and studied quilting with their grandmother. Taking advantage of the expertise of family members is a brilliant idea. Not only do the children learn a new skill but wonderful memories are made.

Rachel Kelly has her children make mixed media Christmas cards and paints a stained glass Easter scene on their storm door using Tempera paint.

Other families find classes at their local library, YMCA, museums, and online at CreativeBug and YouTube.

When pulling together your lessons for these curriculums it is important to expose your children to a wide variety of pursuits. As they get older, their talents and interests will narrow down the activities in which they engage.

The study of the arts and physical fitness will not only broaden their horizons, but will also develop discipline, patience, and perseverance, all of which will serve your children well in their post-homeschool lives.

About Mary Ellen Barrett

Mother of seven children and two in heaven, Mary is wife to David and a lifelong New Yorker. She has homeschooled her children for eleven years using Seton and an enormous amount of books. She is a columnist for The Long Island Catholic and blogs here . Meet Mary Ellen.
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