Guest Post by Charity Hawkins of The Homeschool Experiment: A Novel
When your kids memorize poetry, you know they are learning vocabulary, spelling, reading skills, and grammar. All they know is that it’s fun.
The private elementary school I attended required twenty poems to be memorized each year, first through sixth grades. What a wonderful way to teach reading and grammar! I think the rich literary environment of this school was part of what helped me fall in love with beautiful writing. I want to do the same for my children.
Here’s how we do it at our house.
1. Put a poem up on the wall. I used to tape it on the wall. Now I use a clipboard because it’s easier to switch out, and I can take it off the wall to pass it around if needed.
2. Say the poem with your children a few times a week. Usually we recite it together at a meal when I first hang it up. Then I forget about it for a week, then we say it again, and so on.
Sometimes I’ll have my kids check me, which they delight in doing, especially when I mess up and they get to correct me. Then they want me to check them.
3. By the end of the month, they probably know it. If they don’t know it yet, I might leave it up for a few extra days or weeks and try to work on it more. I don’t require them to recite it perfectly. I just want them soaking in the richness of the words. Usually they can say it.
That’s the method: Stick a poem up on the wall. Your kids learn it. It’s amazing how much just soaks in. If you wanted, you could record a tape for them of you reading the poems, and they would sink in even faster. But if not, and if you barely remember to say the poem with them, they still learn an awful lot.
I am teaching an art and poetry class at our homeschool co-op this year, so I had to get our yearly list all lined out ahead of time. If you don’t know where to start, you are welcome to use this list.
Our Poems for this Year (daughter 6 and son 8, and 3-year-old picking up whatever he happens to)
(I’d say kids ages four and up can do this pretty easily. If they are younger or having trouble, start with the first stanzas only. Oh, and with younger kids we add motions.)
August – Friends, Dorothy Aldis
September – Barefoot Days, Rachel Field
October – Wynken, Blynken, and Nod (partial) ; Eugene Field
November – The Pilgrims Came, Annette Wynne
December – God Gave Me Eyes, Olive Burt
January – Stopping By Woods (partial) , Robert Frost
February – Manners, Florence A. Richardson
March – Kind Hearts, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
April- Rain, Robert Lois Stevenson
May – Little Things, Ebenezer Cobham Brewer
And remember, if you like this idea but are overwhelmed with life right now, just keep it in mind for future years. There is always another year.
What is one of your favorite poems of childhood? Do you memorize poetry with your children?
Guest Post by Charity Hawkins, author of The Homeschool Experiment: a novel. You can learn more about the book and read the first three chapters at www.TheHomeschoolExperiment.com/order .