Learning the Joy of Poetry

Parents often focus on fiction when teaching their children to read. This article introduces activities families can use at home to foster a lifelong love of poetry.

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Poetry is a personal art and is interpreted differently by all individuals. There is no right or wrong way to teach poetry. Parents can enjoy discovering the joy of poetry with their children through the use of a few simple exercises and learning techniques.

Reading Poetry

There are thousands of great poets and poetry books available today. Find books that are colorful and have illustrated poems because they will help younger students to remain focused. One fun and exciting children's poet is Shel Silverstein. Many of his poems are silly but they are great examples of poetry and children love his books. Silverstein's books are available at most new and used books stores as well as libraries.

If you cannot find his books or other appropriate poetry collections at your local library, ask the librarian if they can order the book from another library, or if they have any recommendations.

Writing Poetry

Once your child has been exposed to various types of poetry, ask them if they would like to try to write some poems of their own. Many children (and adults) are shy and intimidated when first trying to write a poem. If your child is nervous, offer to write a poem with them. When writing your first poems, try to make them simple, and remember that they do not have to rhyme. Many people get into the rhyming rut and become limited with their word choice. Remember, poetry is about expressing oneself, not proving that you can rhyme!

Poems also do not need to be serious; it's okay to be silly when writing a poem. If your child needs some inspiration for their poem, clip pictures out of magazines. Have them write their poem about what they see in the picture.

Try to find examples of the various forms of poetry such as haiku and limericks. You can help your child with their vocabulary through rhyming and word association activities. Try rhyming each other's words. You can also practice word association by writing down each word that comes to mind when presented with an idea or concept.

Reciting Poetry

Memorize one of your favorite poems and perform it for your children. Try to convey the emotions of the poem through your voice and facial expressions. With enough practice, it will impress your children and help them to understand the meaning of the poem. If you are unfamiliar with poetry, you can memorize song lyrics. Your children will enjoy this activity and may wish to learn a poem of their own. Encourage them to start with a shorter poem so that they can focus on the recitation of the poem rather than the chore of memorizing it.

It also helps to discuss the poems after performing them. Ask your children what the poet was trying to convey and see if they can relate it in any way to their own lives.

Poetry can serve as an inspiration and an emotional outlet to students everywhere. Working with your child now will give him or her an amazing writing and art form to cherish for the rest of their life. If you are nervous about teaching your child about poetry, try these activities by yourself before introducing them to your child. Relax and have fun; that is what poetry should be all about!

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