Recently, I ran across something (I don't even remember what) that inspired me to look into a poetry memorization program for the girls. I want my daughters to easily recite poetry, but I can be lazy (being totally real here), and I don't want to spend my time searching around for the best poems to memorize.
I want a pre-packaged, ready-to-use poetry memorization program. But, does something like that even exist? Oh, yes, friends, it certainly does!
After checking around, I ran across Institute for Excellence in Writing's Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization.
From its website:
Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization provides a system to reintroduce you and your children to a vital but often neglected source of powerful and sophisticated linguistic patterning available to children: memorized language, especially memorized poetry.
This teaching tool includes a book with over 75 complete poems, plus speech and soliloquy recommendations, as well as all the poems read on CD for ease of memorization. Instructions, memory charts, certificates, and poet biographies are included. You will also receive a bonus DVD of Andrew Pudewa's conference talk, "Nurturing Competent Communicators."
I was immediately interested in this program because it's from Andrew Pudewa, whom my girls will become very familiar with when they start writing in the Classical Conversations Essentials program in a few years. I've heard nothing but great things about IEW, so I knew this would be worth looking into.
The Old Schoolhouse Magazine has a very indepth review of the program, which, after earning such high marks, convinced me to give it a try. (I don't plan on doing a big review, since TOS says it all. If you want to learn more about this program, please read their review.)
Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization is exactly what I was looking for, in that it's an open-and-go program. Three to four times a day, Mary reviews and then recites her poems. When she has learned a poem, she begins the next one in the book, but she still recites every poem she's learned everyday. Repetition, repetition, repetition. Sounds pretty familiar if you're acquainted with the Classical model of education.
Included in the book and CD set (highly recommend getting the CDs, too) is a wonderful seminar by Andrew Pudewa called Nurturing Competent Communicators. Below is a quick video sample of the seminar:
This is just great! He is so passionate and inspirational - I love watching it!
But why would a writing program concern itself with poetry memorization?
Well, to put it simply, you can't get out of a child's mind what isn't there. If you want your kids to write well, they must have something in the well to draw up. In the program's introduction, Mr. Pudewa says:
Now, to be a competent writer or speaker of English, a student need not be well equipped with an extensive knowledge of grammar, nor is it necessary for him to do great loads of worksheets and exercises designed to teach usage and mechanics. It is not necessarily even true that the more time spent writing, the better writer he becomes. If he is a native speaker of English, he needs one thing above all else and that is this: a large database in his brain of reliably correct and sophisticated language patterns. (p. 1)
By hearing - and better still by memorizing - a variety of poems, we have access to a richness of vocabulary and syntax we might never master in any other way. (p. 5)
Memorization is the most complete form of internalization, and the best way to intimately know something is to know it so well you can communicate it effectively, fluently, even artistically to another. For depth of feeling, meaning, and beauty, poetry is powerful. (p. 5)
Aren't you inspired?!
Interestingly, Mr. Pudewa studied under Shinichi Suzuki, founder of the Suzuki method of violin instruction. Suzuki says in his book Nurtured by Love: The Classical Approach to Talent Education:
After one has learned a thing, it should be thoroughly mastered by repeating it again and again and again (p. 37). Why has your right hand extraordinary ability? Repetition. People too can develop superior talent through the same method - repetition. To stop training as soon as one can do something does not mean that it is truly absorbed. One must continue to practice until it is natural and easy. The more one practices, the better one becomes. Talent is born this way. (p. 42)
Mary has loved it, as well as Anna! Both of them are memorizing poetry rather quickly, and they enjoy doing it. After each meal, Mary hops down from her chair, stands in a special spot, and recites the poetry she has memorized so far. Repetition.
If you're interested in teaching your children how to memorize poetry to become good writers and communicators, but you're unsure how to go about doing it, you may want to look into IEW's Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization. It's been such a blessing to our family!