Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Poetry, wherefore art thou?: The Rhyme and Reasons for Including Poetry in your Home Education

True story:   
The other day my five year old was walking through the home while my twelve year old and I were occupied with other things and he said, “I wish someone would just read me some poetry or Aesop’s Fables or something.”  

Hearing that, you are either thinking, “Wow!  I want my kids to say things like that!” or, “Run for the hills, it’s one of those crazy home educating families!  If you are in the first group, read on.  Even those of you who think this is complete weirdness are welcome to stick around and read …

If you are just joining, I’m in the middle of a series on How I Organize Our Homeschool.  You can find the rest of the posts here.    

So, about those poetry loving five year olds … 
Poetry is possibly the highest form of language.  If that’s the case, why not save the reading of poetry for High School and beyond?  Such a good question.  My thoughts are several, and some of them come straight out of our own home educating experience.  If Broccoli is an acquired taste, should it be saved for High School as well?  I mean it is chock-a-block full of vitamins and minerals that nourish the body.  So it is with poetry.  It is just plain old-fashioned mind nourishment.  And, even if it is an acquired taste, it’s worth putting a serving or two into every homeschool week.  

Here’s how I serve up poetry in our home with a Kindergartener and 7th grader in the mix.  As many of you know (and is covered in more depth here) we follow a six-week on, one week off rhythm for our home educating year.  So, for each six week term we select one poet to study.  In addition, for my kindergartener, we have “A Child’s Book of Garden Verses” and “William Blake’s Inn” and and old book of James Whitcomb Riley that my parents read to me when I was his age.  We find our poems one of two places.  Either we go to Ambleside Online or we go to our public library and check out books by that poet.  (If we love the book, we later buy it used).

We read poems at snack time.  Hey, I have a captive audience.  We read from our main poet three days and from the books selected for my Kindergartener two of the days.  We are equal opportunity when it comes to poetry.  You wouldn't believe how reading a poet daily for six weeks gives your children an introduction and familiarity.  Sometimes we select a poem to memorize when we aren’t memorizing a famous speech from history or a large chunk of scripture.  Oh, and Fables, we read those too (they aren’t poetry, but are so important to building moral character in our children) – we just read those with afternoon tea instead of morning snack. 

And, that’s it.  Pretty much.  

My children do write poems.  I think the ability and sense they have has come from years of hearing poetry read almost daily in our home.  They have a creative way with words and they love playing with rhythm and making up Haiku or Limerick.  

This simple 15 minute a day practice has cultivated a great love for poems in both my boys.  I’m sure my positive attitude when introducing poetry helps.  I have selected poets who have good things to say and I enjoy reading poems to my boys.  Remember, we are serving this up.  If we fork out broccoli with a squinch on our face and one hand holding our nose, well, that is probably not going to be accepted too well.  Be sure to find poetry you feel good about introducing so you carry that love to your children.  

When my oldest son found out that John Adams had a love for poetry, he began to feel he had a friend in this founding father.  They were kindreds.  And, on that note I will give you John Adams’ thought about poetry: 

And, in closing I want to share a riddle poem written by my oldest when he was in 6th grade:

I take all,
And leave none.
I want more,
And then I’m still not done.

I prey upon men,
And they don’t see me coming.
I leap and attack,
But they don’t bother running.

I take different shapes,
Like money or treasure.
And they get all they want,
But they don’t get pleasure.

And they use me and ride me,
Like a noble steed.
But they don’t know my name,
Because I am greed. 

Jordan Scott, March 24, 2014

I would love to hear how you have included poetry and what fruit you have seen or if you haven’t yet included it, I’d love to hear what your thoughts and questions are about adding it into what you do at your home.  

Photo of Broccoli and of Old Book courtesy of Bing images.


Brandy Vencel said...

Okay. Jordan's poem? Totally awesome. LOVE IT. :)

HeartsHomeward said...

Thank you! I'll pass on the compliment. What I loved about it was the reflection of the goodness from so much of what he has taken in - not just poetic ability, but moral values and insight. Thanks for enjoying it with me.

Heather @ My Overflowing Cup said...

Ha! I often read to my kids when they are eating. There is a lot of power in the captive audience. One book on poetry we have enjoyed is one I purchased at Costco a few years ago. I have since lent it out so I'm not sure of the exact title, but it was something like "A Child's Guide to Reading Poetry". It was very nice because it has lots of pictures and an audio CD that the kids could listen to as well. Another favorite is Shel Silverstein.

HeartsHomeward said...

Thanks, Heather!
Yes, food and reading :) I love it myself, so why not with the kids! I'll have to look for the guide you mentioned. I appreciate you sharing the poetic experiences at your home.