Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Lucia Homeschooling report - Poetry

I was asked a while back what my home schooling curriculum was like, and at the time I promised I would write a post on it some time in the future.

It's been difficult to write such a post, because major part of home schooling's strength is going at the pace of the child. As I have just started, the last four or five months have been a constant re-evaluation of where each child is at and how they best learn. It's all very well to have grand plans (as I did) but when the plans don't work because they are at a different level from what the child needs, everything falls on it's face until you re-adjust. For the above reasons, I haven't wanted to use a pre-made curriculum as I had some idea that there would be a hit and miss period before I started. So, I've been gathering various books to help with the teaching of various subjects and then been working out as I go what the children can learn and what I can teach.

What has worked from the beginning has been the memorisation of poetry. I am using Laura Berquist's The Harp and the Laurel Wreath: Poetry and Dictation for the Classical Curriculum as a guide for good poetry categorised in age levels.
Convinced that a critical part of education is to foster in our children a love of the beautiful and true, teacher and writer Laura Berquist presents this wide selection of poetry for every age level from grades one to twelve. Language development is significantly enriched by exposure to good poetry. This book is an important resource because it provides in one volume many poems that concern noble actions or ideas presented in beautiful patterns of sound.
It's been very surprising to me just how much both boys enjoy memorising their poems. My six year old is currently doing The Owl and the Pussy Cat and my ten year old is still on Charge of the Light Brigade.

Laura Berquist recommends that in the memorisation of poetry, a child does one stanza a week. If a poem is memorised slowly, even if the child is capable of doing more, it allows for long term memory retention of the poem. I have certainly found this to be the case - both children remember perfectly poems they have already memorised. The other important thing is to read the poem to the child and have them repeat each line after you, rather than getting them to read and memorise the poem themselves. It seems to make a big difference in memorisation to hear a poem rather that read it.

As a non-poetry literate person who has never really understood the power and the beauty of poems, I can't recommend the study of poetry for children enough. I've been amazed not only how with much enjoyment the children have got through memorising their poems, but also with how raptly they listen when I read them other poems from the book.

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