Monday, March 3, 2008
Poetry in our home
I decided to write this because of a post on the Well Trained Mind boards, and because it seems to come up a lot. The poster asked what do you do about poetry. Well, we have established a routine that has become a family tradition. We call it "teatime" and the idea evolved from reading Charlotte Mason and the suggestions on Ambleside Online for how to expose your children to poetry. I try to select 3 poets to cover for the year. Last year we focused on R.L Stevenson and Rossetti, but this year we are doing Blake, Conkling and Teasdale. I have not followed the Ambleside schedule exactly, since we do it as a family not individually with each child. I try to plan teatime two or three times each week, though some weeks it only happens once (or not at all!), but my kids get very vocal if we go too many days without it. I use special china teacups, from a mismatched collection I have acquired from antique shops over the years. In the summer I serve lemonade or chocolate milk, in the winter sweetened hot tea or hot chocolate. I try to have a special snack, some home made bread or cookies. We usually have teatime around 4:00 pm, while baby is napping. While they sip on their special drinks and enjoy a snack, I read poems. I always read several from the poet we are currently featuring (we try to spend about 12 weeks per poet), then I take requests of poems from other poets we have read. We do not recite poetry at this time (that is done in the morning during recitation) this is purely a fun time for them to listen to me read, and it has become a treasured tradition. Even my 9 year old son enjoys listening to poems, and always has special requests to hear some of his favorites. So, get off the computer :), pick a poet, get a book of poems (or print some off the internet) and start reading, just do me a favor and don't try to analyze it! Nothing ruins teatime like quizzing the kids about rhyme, imagery or what do you think the poet meant by that? Just enjoy the experience, familiarize them with fun, beautiful poetry (no Silverstein for us at teatime) and let them ask the questions. Ambleside has lots of wonderful guidance for selecting age appropriate poets who will engage the imagination. Enjoy, I am off to have tea!