Suggestions for Poetry Study: Method and Schedule
- In the early years of poetry study, choose one or two poets per year. We read a poem every day for one to two weeks, depending on the length and content of the poem (remember it's your choice how much or how little to read!) In later years, you could choose a poet for the entire year. Spend an entire year with a poet, reading his/her biography and poems, and you will know that poet as a friend. Last year, we studied the poetry of Rudyard Kipling. We learned that Kipling was much more than the author of the Jungle Book. From heartbreaking family loss to his political activism, we learned about Kipling's message to both children and adults.
- When reading a poem to our children as part of the school day but not as part of school work, they gain a sense of the calm and relaxing mood that can be brought on by a sweet poem. We often read a poem at snack time, just before rest time or during a special afternoon tea. This takes no more than 5-10 minutes, including narration and/or discussion.
- The children narrate the poem orally, but more often by acting it out, illustrating it or even setting it to song. Poetry is particularly good fodder for more dramatic forms of narration. If we have narrated the entire poem on day one, then we don't narrate it again and again, but we just enjoy reading it on a daily basis.
- Poems can be selected for recitation, and in that case, we may read through a poem each day for several weeks until it is committed to memory.
- If the poem provides a description for a place that can be visited (such as poems about trees in a park or de la Mare's poem about a cobbler and a butcher), we will try to visit a park that has examples of those trees or visit a cobbler or butcher on our next field trip day. It is good fun for the children to memorize a poem and recite it for the cobbler!
- Older children can be encouraged to write some of their narrations in verse form. This was expected in the later Forms of the PNEU schools. Subject areas that were particularly suited for this form of written narration included Bible and History.