Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Poetry Recitation and Fort Building--Just Another Day at School

Yes, it's another post about home schooling. This was such a great day that I have to share what our kiddos are up to. I hope that, whatever your schooling method is, you'll come away from these posts inspired to try new things with your kids. They're up for it! It's really about our attitude.

Our home school group is following many of the ideas set forth by the educator Charlotte Mason. Her philosophies, her emphasis on literature and nature study, as well as character training and development appeals to us mamas. The kids all seem pretty happy with it too.

One of the many interesting ideas in a Charlotte Mason education is recitation. That is, child recitation of poems, scripture or other pieces of literature. Even though are kids are all very young, kinder or younger, we thought it would be good to introduce this to our kids now. If we begin now, it will soon become familiar and comfortable to them. At least this is what we all hoped.

It went so much better than I could have imagined.
We chose the poem, The Rain, by Robert Louis Stevenson. It is a short and approachable poem. Also, we thought it was an appropriate "winter time" poem for the kids. (Funny thing is, it has been blazing hot the last 2 times we've gotten together and recited our poem)

All the moms learned it with their kids and the idea was we would not ask the kids to say it by themselves yet, but that the mommies would model for them and then if they wanted to, the kids could say it.

I was really surprised at how excited the boys were to learn the poem with me. There was a part of me that worried they'd think it was weird, or embarrassing for us to be saying a poem together. But they liked it. It is all in the delivery. I explained why and how we'd be doing it and after just a few times of saying it together, they had it down pat. Even Lilly would stand with them and say as many of the words as she could get in. My little 1 and a half year old is doing poetry recitation too. Because the whole family does school together!

When our group met, the kids played for a while as usual, then we gathered them together for recitation time. First the Mommies. Then we did a fun rain sound-making activity. It was great to see all the kids participate. Even ones as small as Lilly were right there in the thick of it, taking in what they can. I really love that.

When we asked the kids if they wanted to say it together, they all said, yes! and, on their own accord, they stood together, held hands, and said the poem together.
It was great.

This will become a regular part of our home school days. In the past, learning and reciting poems was something everyone did. But it isn't any more. When I taught high school, teaching poetry was such a struggle because it was like teaching a foreign language. But if I begin introducing poetry, and I mean literature, not Dr. Seuss, to them now, it will become a part of their language and vocabulary.
And that makes this literature major, English teacher and bibliophile very, very happy.

After recitation time, the kids went off to do their thing. They made a fort.
I hate to harp on an old topic, but after years of being asked how I felt about socialization, while I was actually being home schooled, and now being asked again while I home school my own kids, I'd like to point out the following things:

All of these kids, aged 1.5 to 5.5 built this fort together.
There was no adult direction, or input.
They talked to each other.
They came up with a design and a plan together.
They carried heavy logs together.
They worked together.
They communicated.
They encouraged each other.
They didn't put out any one's eye.
They didn't drop a heavy log on any one's head.
They let the littlest ones help.
They respected each other's ideas and listened to each other.

I don't really think we have to worry about their social skills, do we?
Traditionally schooled kids go to special assemblies and classes to learn this stuff.
I say, give them some sticks and watch them go!

Hurray for poetry and learning in God's creation.
I couldn't have asked for a better day.


Erin McDonald said...

I love it! I think you mother's are doing a great job! I hope to be able to do the same some day! Love you friend!

jennifer said...

oh, yes! i love it. what a great day that was. :) thanks for capturing the essence of it all. i will be sharing this post with my peeps too!