At Sycamore School, visual arts instruction is viewed as an integral and necessary part of the curriculum.

It is understood that a discipline-based art program improves abilities in other subject areas, encourages higher-level thinking skills, provides opportunities for creative self-expression, accommodates all learning styles, and offers an alternative means of decoding cultural symbols. It is a vital aspect of education in an increasingly visual world.
Academically gifted children are disproportionately able in visual art, and talented artists are disproportionately gifted. Thus, it is extremely important to expose gifted students to a quality art program. Such a program presents projects as visual problems to be solved, not as predetermined “cookie-cutter” outcomes. It requires constant decision-making on the part of the student, demands high standards of student achievement, and instills in the pupil a deep respect for art as a discipline. It promotes intellectual honesty and curiosity, and it encourages diversity. It discourages judgments based upon ignorance and prejudice. Unlike other academic subjects, it recognizes myriad “right” answers, and it offers socially acceptable ways to express strong views and emotions. It is essential to the formation of a well-rounded individual.

The art program at Sycamore is rigorous and substantive. It includes study of art history, art criticism, aesthetics and production. The philosophy of the Sycamore program is based upon the firm belief that such rigor promotes creativity, develops critical thinking skills, and enhances self-esteem through the achievement of high standards. It recognizes that art is a primary means of transmitting culture and that students deserve access to all the contributions of civilization.

Art is a universal language. As with any language, the more one understands its vocabulary, structure and nuance, the better one may communicate. Art-educated students are able to express themselves more fluently and are more capable of understanding what other artists are trying to say. For some students, even gifted ones, the visual arts may offer the most viable avenue to self-expression.

Early Childhood

The objective of art appreciation in Early Childhood is to expose young children to quality art and artists, to introduce them to the language and tools of artists, and to give them the opportunity to participate in age-appropriate art experiences. This program provides a solid foundation in the visual arts through a three-year cycle of topics and activities.

Lower School

Lower School students receive art instruction twice weekly. In Grades One through Three art classes focus on the elements and principles of art as students explore various methods and media. Grade Four art instruction is an introduction to the study of art history and world cultures.

Middle School

Art is coordinated with the humanities program in Middle School. In Grades Five, Six, and Seven students concentrate on Western art history and culture focusing on the same time periods that are being covered in social studies and language arts classes. During Grade Eight, students investigate criticism and aesthetics in depth, then take their foundations of art and their knowledge of the techniques used throughout history and explore their own personal style.