Monday, March 12, 2012

Children and Poetry

Growing up, I loved reading books and poetry with my older siblings and parents. My favorite was Mother Goose rhymes. I enjoyed the fluidity of the rhymes and the sound of my mother’s voice as she read them. She always sounded so excited – I could tell that she liked them. Poetry can help with child development whether it is read from a book or written by y’all. It helps with developing your child’s language, imagination, and ability to make judgments as it helps expand your child’s interest, evokes thought, and teaches art with the illustrations.
Start off with simple rhyming. My favorite rhyme was “Baa, baa, black sheep.” It was smooth and easy to understand. Make sure whatever you read your child; you love it and enjoy it. Your child will be able to feel your excitement for the poems and will enjoy it more the more you do. As you read a poem, you can have your child draw a picture of what he thinks of the poem. This will help his imagination expand and keep him interested in the poem. Ask him about his drawing and how it relates to the poem. Praise him for a job well done.

After reading a few poems, we would make up our own. My sister’s name, Celeste, was a lot of fun to play with because it rhymed with so much. 
We would come up with things such as: 
                                                                  My sister Celeste
                                                                      Is the best
                                                              She can beat the rest
                                                                And pass any test

They are not profound or long, but my mother always clapped for us and joked around. She encouraged us making up our own rhymes. We absolutely loved these rhymes. As children start making their own rhymes, they are showing their understanding of language and enjoyment of rhymes which will later get them interested in poetry. The rhymes might not always make sense, but encourage them because they are getting down the idea of rhyming. Even my mom would get into the fun by making up her own rhymes about us. These were definitely the biggest hit!
With the poetry books or home-made poems, perform the poetry. Y’all can do this through acting out the words. We used to act out “Baa, baa, black sheep” by filling three bags and one of us was the black sheep, the other the farmer asking questions, and another the little boy who received the bags. You do not have to use props, you can just use different voices, expressions, and actions to represent each character. Another way to perform poetry is have your child read it in different voices into a tape recorder (you can even do it with home-made poems). Then play the reading back. He will love hearing his own voice and enjoy using his imagination to come up with different voices.
Poetry is a blast! Enjoy reading poetry to your children, listening to their home-made poems, and looking at their drawings. Your children will learn so much about language through poetry. 
What are some of your favorite poems?

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