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Kids need both the poetry and the memorization. As educators have known for centuries, these exercises deliver unique cognitive benefits, benefits that are of special importance for kids who come from homes where books are scarce and the level of literacy low. In addition, such exercises etch the ideals of their civilization on children’s minds and hearts.
I'm am quickly becoming a huge fan of poetry and memorization in education- especially homeschool. Why? Because I see the evidence of it in my own daughter. In fact, the importance of poetry is portrayed in most children's books that are written in rhyme. Love Dr. Suess? It is one of those little undeniable facts that we miss as we read books to our children. I'm blown away at my daughter's ability to memorize poems, she's already memorized some of Robert Louis Stevenson's poems- Bed in Summer, A Thought, At the Sea-Side, Whole Duty of Children, Auntie's Skirts and The Cow. She's also memorized The Lord's Prayer, The Caterpillar by Christina G. Rosetti, Work by Anonymous, Hearts are Like Doors by Anonymous. We started in July! Now if I had understood how poetry and children work from the beginning, she'd have even more memorized by now.
Guess what her favorite part of each lesson is right now? It's whatever poem I've found it read alongside what we're studying. I'll talk about this more in an upcoming post, How To Use Poetry in Lessons.