Monday, January 19, 2009

Thoughts on Poetry Memorization

" is well to store a child's memory with a good deal of poetry, learnt without labour."

Charlotte Mason vol. 1, pg.224

Thanks to the encouragement from Jacci and her post on poetry I have added it to our schooling for the rest of this school year.

First I accessed the word documents provided through the yahoo group that Jacci started and printed them off for easy reference. Next I read each of them to Alissa and Thomas and let them pick which one they wanted to memorize.

Alissa (age 7) chose the Tiger, Tiger poem by William Blake and Thomas (age 7) chose The Moon's the North Wind's Cookie by Vachel Lindsay. I also picked a few selections from our Favorite Poems Old and New book for Emily (age 5.5) to choose from, she ended up picking The Little Turtle also by Vachel Lindsay.

Initially we have simply read through them a few times and then started working on the first couple of lines in each poem which they have memorized with ease, even to the point of memorizing eachother's poems.

But then I directed my self back to Home Education the 1st book in Charlotte Mason's series and here is what I gleaned.

  • The poem should be read through to the child in the beginning.

  • The next day while the child is occupied with an activity or play, read it again

  • Read again during an odd or unexpected time throughout each and every day following.

  • By the weeks end the child will have heard 6 or more readings according to the length of the poem and in the end should be able to say the poem which they have not learned.

"The child must not try to recollect or to say the verse over to himself, but, as far as may be, present an open mind to receive an impression of interest. Half a dozen repetitions should give children possession of such poems as 'Dolly and Dick', 'Do you ask what the birds say?' 'Little lamb, who made thee?' and the like. The gains of such a method of learning are, that the edge of the child's enjoyment is not taken off by weariful verse by verse repetitions, and, also, that the habit of making mental images is unconsciously formed." CM vol. 1, pg. 225

"Let the child lie fallow till he is six, and then, in this matter of memorising, as in others, attempt only a little, and let the poems the child learns be simple and within the range of his own thought and imagination. At the same time, when there is so much noble poetry within a child's compass, the pity of it, that he should be allowed to learn twaddle!"
CM vol. 1 pg. 226

Ways that I plan on accomplishing this even though I have 3 different children working on 3 different poems.

  • While washing dishes and doing kitchen chores I will choose 1 to read

  • While eating a meal I will choose a different one to read

  • While they are brushing teeth and getting ready for bed I will choose a different one to read

  • I will also keep them in a handy location so that I can catch those odd and unexpected times to give a reading.

I'll check back in at the end of the week hopefully to see what kind of progress we have made.

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