How to Do Poetry Study with Children | Charlotte Mason Style

How to do Poetry Study with Children feature image

What does the thought of poetry study bring to mind? What feelings does it evoke? For myself, it instantly makes me happy! Do you look forward to sharing poetry with your children? I have always loved poetry – the rhythms, the pictures that form in my mind’s eye from words….. My children and I have enjoyed many poems and poets together over the years, and I have learned to make it enjoyable and simple! I want to share with you how we do poetry study in our home. While we are a homeschooling family, even if you are not, you can still do poetry study with your children! So please, keep reading this post to learn how and for a FREEBIE at the end.

When doing poetry study with children, you will choose a poet to focus on, share about the poet’s life, read and discuss the poems together. 

“The thing is, to keep your eye upon words and wait to feel their force and beauty; and, when words are so fit that no other words can be put in their places, so few that none can be let out without spoiling the sense, and so fresh and musical that they delight you, then you may be sure that you are reading Literature, whether in prose or poetry” Charlotte Mason (Ourselves, The Home Education Series Volume 4)

How to Do Poetry Study with Children

Poetry Study with Children Choose a Poet

1: Choose a poet.

The first step is to choose a poet! There are so many wonderful poets that make great first time choices for poetry study. Here are some that come to my mind first: A.A. Milne, Robert Louis Stevenson, Christina Rosetti, Emily Dickinson, Rudyard Kipling, and Robert Frost. (For this post, I will use Emily Dickinson as an example.) Charlotte Mason suggests to focus on one poet for a minimum of a year – we choose one poet per year in our family.

“Collections of poems are to be eschewed; but one poet should have at least a year to himself, that he may be have time to do what is in him towards cultivating the seeing eye, the hearing ear, the generous heart” Charlotte Mason (Formation of Character, The Home Education Series Volume 5)

Poetry Study with Children Choose a Poetry Book

2: Choose a poetry book.

Now that you have chosen a poet, you will want to get a book of his/her poetry. A collection of poems is best. There are many options, you can choose one that catches your eye. I like the Poetry for Young People series – they are easy to read and have lovely illustrations. I have this one of Emily Dickinson, as well as a few others. They also have definitions for words that may be unfamiliar to children for each poem. (If you would like a fully guided poetry study, I highly recommend the Simply Charolotte Mason Enjoy the Poems series!)

“Selections should be avoided; children should read the whole book or the whole poem to which they are introduced” Charlotte Mason (Towards a Philosophy of Education, The Home Education Series Volume 6)

Poetry Study with Children Find a Biography

3: Find a living biography of the poet.

You will also want to find some information about the poet to share with your children. This will preferably be a living biography that will personalize and bring the poet to life. This will hopefully help them remember who authored a poem, if they heard or read it in the future. Sometimes you can find an illustrated children’s book. For example, I found this book called Emily to read with my boys. It is truly a wonderful book. (If you choose to get one of the Enoy the Poems books, there is a short story about the poet included in the book.)

Poetry Study with Children Have a Weekly Poetry Study

4: Have a weekly poetry study. 

This will usually take about 5-10 minutes. Here are some poetry study ideas for your weekly gatherings:

Most weeks, you will read a poem aloud to your children.

Always read a complete poem, not just a small selection. Making sure to pronounce all words correctly and read* it slowly, so that your children have time to create a picture in their mind from the words. Enjoy the reading! Now you can choose to leave it at that, or you can have an informal discussion about the poem. Perhaps define any words that you think are new to your child, ask how the poem made them feel, what their thoughts are about the poem, etc. And don’t forget to share your feelings and thoughts too! Keep it simple and pleasant. The most important part of this is to make poetry enjoyable!! Picking apart the poem is NOT the goal. Remember to always choose poetry that is suitable to your child’s age and maturity.

Occasionally, you will read about the poet with your children.

On these weeks, this will take the place of a poetry reading. You may ask your children for an oral narration of the reading if you desire, but you do not have to. I generally ask my children to share something they found interesting about the poet. This is a great time to add the poet to your book of centuries (or a timeline) so that they can visualize when this person lived.

A few times a year, encourage your children to make the poetry their own.

Here are some ideas of how they can enjoy and treasure their favorite poems:

  • Allow your child to choose their favorite poem to date, and read it aloud to the family. They may wish to practice reading it beautifully beforehand.
  • Illustrate a favorite poem. This could be an illustration of the entire poem or a portion of it. It can convey what is described in their mind’s eye, or perhaps an emotion that it evokes in the child.
  • Act out the poem. This can be a fun group effort too.
  • Transcribe the poem, either in entirety or a favorite portion. This can be a way to practice handwriting, or it could be added into a journal for the to look back on.
  • Recite the poem. Recitation of a favorite poem after it has been memorized is a lovely way for your child to make a poem their own, as they share their own interpretation of its emotions.

Would you like a FREE 36 week Poetry Study Schedule?!

Free Charlotte Mason Style Poetry Study Schedule

Click below to download mine!

*Hot Tip for poetry reading: Pause with the punctuation, not when the line breaks – this will convey the meaning of the poem and not create awkward line break pauses. 

If you found this post helpful, you may also enjoy my other enrichment study how-to posts:

  • How to do Picture Study with Children
  • How to do Music Study with Children

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