Poetry is a wonderful component to add to our homeschools, though those of us unfamiliar with it might be unnecessarily intimidated by it. However, poetry reading and listening develops language patterns, listening skills, and complex thinking ability. Andrew Pudewa has written that
There is perhaps no greater tool than memorization to seal language patterns into a human brain, and there is perhaps nothing more effective than poetry to provide exactly what we want: reliably correct and sophisticated language patterns.
But poetry does not have to be a whole different subject, added in on top of everything. Poetry can be sprinkled into – integrated with – the things we are already doing and even into simply living life.
Here are some simple steps that my family has taken to incorporate poetry into our daily routines:
- Add a poetry book to our read-aloud pile and just read 1 or 2 pages during preschool time. Some of our favorites are Tasha Tudor’s illustrated version of Stevenson’s A Garden of Verses, A Child’s Book of Poems by Gyo Fujikawa and T.S. Elliot’s Book of Practical Cats.
- Find picture books that illustrate one narrative poem as a stand-alone story. The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, Casey at the Bat, and Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening are some that we have enjoyed.
Add a poem to our memory work binder. Poems from A Garden of Verses are a great place to start with young children.
Listen to poetry in the car using A Child’s Introduction to Poetry.
Sing. We often forget that most hymns and folk songs and other good songs are poetry set to music. In ancient times poetry was almost always recited with musical accompaniment. Don’t discount singing together as a family.
Particularly when the children are elementary and younger, focus on introducing and enjoying poems together. Don’t worry about analysis or interpretation or even comprehension. Just let them experience and enjoy poetry at their own level. Allow the time and space for love and taste to develop before teaching content and analysis. Then the analysis in later years will be more like sharing thoughts about common friends and less like dissecting a dead frog.