Poetry-Words Worthy of Our Honor

Poetry: Words Worthy of Our Honor

I'm delighted to share with you the subject of Poetry.
Charlotte Mason was a lover of poetry herself, and an avid believer in its value for children and education. So, let's find out about that value, and how we incorporate poetry into our days.

Things To Know:
There are many reasons that poetry is beneficial to education, and many ways in which it is valuable. These reasons span across both practical, purely educational reasons AND truly "feasting" reasons, enriching our minds. Poetry can be called a culmination of the variety of human experiences and thoughts. In this, there is much to be learned about culture, history, environments, and relationships. Studying poetry also, in a purely incidental but practical way, increases and gives practice to language arts skills, observation skills, and deep independent thinking. In poetry, we have the opportunity to "meet another's mind", colliding with their world, their environment, their thoughts, their hearts, and the meaning of the era in which they lived. Poetry, in fact, is often the ONLY way in which the true meaning of an era of time is really recorded (history in itself almost always lacks this). In these ways, and many others, poetry is immensely valuable, and education would seem to be incomplete without it.

In addition, and perhaps even more importantly, poetry is delightful and adds vitality to learning (and adds vitality to other subjects directly as well). Poetry doesn't have to be taught to children, just presented to them, as they (and we) are created to find beauty in words. This offers comfort to the mother who isn't proficient in poetry herself, and is uncomfortable at the idea of teaching it.
In a Charlotte Mason education, poetry is first presented simply for delight. There are a variety of ways to do this "presenting of delightful words", and we will examine those below. We can all rest assured, however, that we do NOT have to understand poetry to present it to our children.

Things To Ponder:
It is part of our being to find beauty in words. We are created in the image of God, and God inspired beautiful words as a means of communicating with His creation. God Himself created words, and all of their beauty lies in Him. Much of Scripture reads like poetry, and a truly wonderful portion of it IS poetry. The beautiful words of poetry do not only convey knowledge (although they do portray plenty of that!), but also speak directly to our souls. When children are exposed often to poetry, they begin to naturally write or speak poetry of their own.(Poetry In=Poetry Out). This alone should prove to our hearts that children have a natural desire for such words, and encourage us to provide them!

"Most people will agree with me that poetry ought to be taught. Doubtless there are still some who hold that [poetry] is a mere amusement, a trifle fit only for the nursery or the drawing room, and unworthy to encroach on the sacred hours devoted to science and mathematics and physical exercise. And others will tell me that it is too good for the schoolroom. Poetry, they say, the ripest fruit of the ripest thought of mankind, should not be squandered on minds too crude or too weak to receive it: the audience of the true poet, if fit, must always be ‘few.’ But these two classes are in a minority, and I do not propose to deal with them to-day. I must assume that poetry is good, and that, being good, it cannot be too good for our children." ~Mary Woods

Things to Do:
Bite Sized Challenge for Implementing-
1. Purchase/Collect a Few Poetry Books and spend 20 minutes a week reading poetry aloud to your children. A wonderful way to do this is to include poetry in Tea Time.
2. Simply read poetry and allow open ended discussion on the poem and any thoughts that it leads your children to. Do not attempt to analyze or "quiz" over the poems. Read, read, read... And allow the beauty and power of the words to work their way into your children's hearts and minds.
3. Occasionally show children a picture of the poet you're reading, and read a short biography of them.

Digging Deeper Challenge for Implementing-

1. Purchase/Collect Books of Poetry and read one poem each day out loud to your children. You could correlate these poems to seasons, holidays, the history you're studying, etc, you could read many poems by one poet at a time (one per term), or you could simply just read through poetry books in order.
2. Once a week, read several poems for an extended period (like the 20 minutes mentioned above). These could be poems that you've read during the week repeated, some poems outside of what you're reading through the week, or just more of your current poet's poems.
3. Choose one poem to read every day, naturally encouraging your child to memorize it. In practice, you'd be reading your selected poem, plus one new poem daily. (Longer poems should be broken up into two or more days).
4. Occasionally, or with every poet (your choice), present a picture of the poet and a brief biography.

Important Notes:
1. Present a Variety, and offer choices. Once your children have been exposed to poetry for a while, they will begin to know and express what they like. They don't have to like it all! Poetry speaks to us differently, just as music and books do. Always offer a variety, but don't be afraid to focus more attention on what they like. (Children form relationships with poetry. This is the "science of relations", and understanding it is vital to understanding CM education)
2. For children younger than 4th grade or so, it is not necessary to understand or teach the grammar of poetry. Once a child has spent years reading poetry for delight, you can start examining the grammar of poetry simply by finding the patterns within a poem by clapping them out. The more poetry you read, the more you will be equipped to gradually increase this grammar examination as children get older.

Further Study Challenge:
Read This:
Studying Poetry

My Favorite Poetry Books-

Random House Book of Poetry

Poetry for Young People
(This is a series of books that hold collections of poetry by specific poets.)

Shel Silverstein Where the Sidewalk Ends

For Beginners:

Favorite Poems Old and New

A Child's Anthology

For Memorization:
Poems to Learn By Heart

My Favorite Poets to Start With:

Emily Dickinson
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Robert Frost

From Charlotte Herself:
"The best thoughts of the best minds, taking form as literature, and at its highest as poetry."

"... No one can tell what particular morsel a child will select for his sustenance."
(On presenting a variety)

I would love to discuss them with you!

Delightfully Feasting <3 

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