Friday, May 02, 2008

The Fruits of Poetry Friday

I've always had a gentle approach to poetry when it comes to homeschooling. I don't really do formal "poetry units" because I've seen kids turn their poetry switches off forever after such things and I didn't want that to happen with my own children.

My way has been the subtle way. Read some poetry at breakfast. Share something I love. Take them to a reading.

At first, Poetry Friday was just for me. I enjoyed making the rounds to see what others were sharing, and I enjoyed sharing some of my favorite poetry, too.

Then, I gently invited the children in. Every Friday in our homeschool became Poetry Friday. I read something to them and we laughed about it, or pondered it or made a connection to something else. I didn't require anything of them -- they didn't have to recite, memorize or dissect. Just listen. They could write poetry if they wanted to, if they felt called to, but no one had to. Not everyone, after all, is a poet.

The kids have shown me before that Poetry Friday and other gentle approaches are working if by "working" I mean that they have developed an interest in and a love for poetry. They like to write their own poems, when inspiration strikes (and they've felt a poet's anguish when the words won't flow.)

The latest sign that Poetry Friday is a full-fledged part of our gentle approach to poetry came from Ramona. She came to me last week, latest issue of Your Big Backyard in hand, and said, "Mommy! They have poems about fish in here this month! We can read these poems for Poetry Friday! And we can read them right now!"

And we did. And we will.


Kelly at Big A little a is hosting this week and kicks it off with a charming, sniffly, but realistic ode to her graduating seniors.


Sally Thomas said...

I am with you on the gentle approach, though I've had pangs of conscience along the way about not requiring at least a little memorization, because it is nice to have things written in your mind that way. But then I taught this high-school co-op English class this year, and the first thing one of my sweet students said was, "Will we have to memorize poems in this class," and when I said no -- because I didn't think I could stay on top of making people do that -- there was a general sigh of relief. That spoke volumes to me.

On the other hand, I was someplace with my little kids -- and if I wait a minute, it will come to me; oh, right, I think we were at Mass, actually, on Wednesday. Anyway, so we were at Mass, and in the quiet at one point, I heard my four-year-old whispering to herself, "Ducks are down a-dabbling,/Up-tails all!" Some things you just can't NOT memorize . . . even when you're not trying to memorize them!

(and you should really come and play Progressive-Allusive Poem over at my blog! We need some more lines!).

sarah said...

I agree with you, this is a beautiful way to inspire a natural love for poetry. It's similar to what I do myself (although I am even more lax!)

However, I must also say that we've had great fun a couple of times really sinking our teeth into the meaning, subtexts, and structure of a poem. Robert Frost's "Stopping By Woods" is one we particularly enjoyed in this way.

Anonymous said...

You inspired me to head out with a pile of poetry books today. It was delightful.

Anonymous said...

I have taken a similar approach in my classroom. No more poetry units because it is April! We do poetry all year and I think their reading and writing have greatly benefited. They choose to write poetry all the time.

Sarah Reinhard said...

Oh Karen.


If you lived closer, I'd drive right over and hug you.

(Feeling a little emotional this morning, Sarah? Why, Karen, what makes you say that?)

You see, when you share things like this, little glimpses of your homeschooling life, I not only yearn ever more to homeschool, I also see HOW IT WORKS successfully and WHAT I WOULD LOVE about it.

(Not trying to blow out your ears with that shouting. Not only EMOTIONAL this AM but also ENTHUSIASTIC. Oh wait, neither of those is unusual.)

Anyway, thanks. :)

Karen Edmisten said...

Mrs. T -- yes, I think that memorization will come, after the love. :-) And, Patience, I'm not opposed to analysis, of course! I just think it will arise naturally out of the love for poetry and the desire to better understand it. Jenn, your day looked delightful indeed! Alotalot -- what a great class you must have. And, Sarah, are you feeling a little emotional this morning? :-) Well, however you're feeling, I must say that your comment made my day.

Sarah Reinhard said...

I made your day? Wow. Glad to hear it.

And this morning, not so emotional. Sleep-deprived, YES (teething infant, though I'm not wishing her forward at all!). Emotional, not so much.

(Annoyed? Irritable? Well, let's just not start listing them...)