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A Year by Year Look at Charlotte Mason’s Poetry Study in Heart of Dakota

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More Than a Charlotte Mason Moment

A Year by Year Look at Charlotte Mason’s Poetry Study in HOD

Charlotte Mason loved to study poetry! She makes mention of poetry study in each of her six volume series of books. Each year, she would choose one poet to focus upon with her students. Students would read, illustrate, narrate/discuss, memorize, and recite poetry.  According to Charlotte Mason, Older (age 9) children should practice reading aloud every day, and their readings should include a good deal of poetry, to accustom him to the delicate rendering of shades of meaning, and especially to make him aware that words are beautiful in themselves, that they are a source of pleasure, and are worthy of our honour; and that a beautiful word deserves to be beautifully said, with a certain roundness of tone and precision of utterance…” (Volume 1, p. 227)

Charlotte Mason’s Quotes About Poetry Study

“Poetry is, perhaps, the most searching and intimate of our teachers… Poetry, too, supplies us with tools for the modelling of our lives, and the use of these we must get at for ourselves. The line that strikes us as we read, that recurs, that we murmur over at odd moments-this is the line that influences our living…” (Volume 4, p. 71)

“Many have a favourite poet for a year or two, to be discarded for another and another. Some are happy enough to find the poet of their lifetime in Spenser, Wordsworth, Browning, for example; but, whether it be for a year or a life, let us mark as we read, let us learn and inwardly digest. Note how good this last word is. What we digest we assimilate, take into ourselves, so that it is part and parcel of us, and no longer separable.” (Volume 4, p. 71)

Carrie’s Commentary on Charlotte Mason’s Poetry Study

It is interesting to note that I was never exposed to classic poetry that I can remember throughout my education or during my years as a classroom teacher. After ending my years in the classroom as a teacher, when I came home to teach my children, I had my first exposure to classic poetry. When I began reading Charlotte Mason’s philosophy of education and started trying to implement it in my home, I began my first uncertain steps into reading classic poetry with my sons.

My boys were young, just 9 and 6 at the time. We started with Robert Louis Stevenson and just read and discussed a poem a week. Then, we moved on to Robert Frost and Emily Dickinson, much as you see the progression in our guides. I did not have “expert” questions to guide me. However, we wandered our way through the poems talking about possible meanings as we went.

I became a believer of Charlotte Mason’s philosophy of lingering over poetry a little at a time.

Over the years, I began to see an amazing change in my boys’ ability to understand poetry (and along with that to comprehend and enjoy difficult literature too). They began to find the meaning in what they read and really be able to talk about it. I became a believer in Charlotte Mason’s philosophy of allowing a child to think on and linger over poetry a little at a time. I slowly became a lover of classic poetry too, and I enjoy it very much now… but it was a process.

Subjects such as literature, poetry, and Bible are meant to be discussed and lingered over.

I encourage you not to give up on poetry or literature study simply to seek a way to teach these subjects with an answer key. When there is a key, you can be sure there is often very little creativity being taught, as the goal to mirror the key becomes the focus of the assignment very quickly. Subjects such as grammar and math work well from a key. Subjects such as literature, poetry, and Bible are meant to be discussed and lingered over. The skill of thinking on a higher level and digging beneath the surface of what is read is a skill to be taught like any other. It comes naturally to some people and not to others. However, it is a skill that can be taught to almost anyone given the right method and enough time.

Charlotte Mason encouraged homeless, workhouse children to unerstand and appreciate poetry.

As an example of this, Charlotte Mason encouraged the skills of understanding and appreciating literature and poetry in homeless workhouse children who had no education, no home, and no prior schooling. Yet, they could learn to appreciate literature and poetry, and it opened a world of possibilities in their minds. Our guides strive to do the same.

Heart of Dakota makes Charlotte Mason-style poetry study easy!

Charlotte Mason’s poetry study can be a subject many homeschool families long to have be part of their day but struggle to actually do so. Heart of Dakota makes Charlotte Mason-style poetry study easy! Starting in Beyond Little Hearts, children are given a broad exposure to poetry to act as a backdrop for more in-depth study. Poems reinforce the history theme, and a different classic poem is introduced each unit. Many famous poets are represented. Poems were chosen for their enduring quality and their ability to withstand the test of time. Poems are read aloud each day and kept for one week. Daily copywork of the weekly poem offers yet another way to enjoy a Charlotte Mason inspired skill.

Bigger Hearts for His Glory’s Poetry Study

Bigger Hearts for His Glory continues to give exposure to history-linked classic poems. Each poem is also still read aloud each day. However, each unit includes the addition of poetry activities in a rotating way. Beginning with Day 1, children are introduced to the poem and any unfamiliar vocabulary. On Day 2, parents and children enjoy questions and a discussion related to the meaning of the poem. Day 3 includes instruction and practice on various ways to enjoy choral reading the poem. Next, Day 4 includes a lesson focusing on poetic devices. Finally, Day 5 rounds out with reading past poems for enjoyment. Copywork of the poem along with the option to illustrate it each week offers students yet another opportunity to benefit from a Charlotte Mason inspired skill.

Preparing Hearts for His Glory’s Poetry Study

Children using Preparing Hearts for His Glory are often around the age 9. This is the ‘older’ age Charlotte Mason refers to when suggesting beginning poetry study. In Preparing Hearts, a different classic poem written by Robert Louis Stevenson is introduced in each unit. Day 1 includes questions and a discussion related to the meaning of the poem. On Day 2, a creative writing lesson based upon the poem’s style, content, pattern, or poetic devices is planned. Day 3 includes guided questions for students to help students make personal connections. Next, Day 4 suggests ways for students to share the poem with others. Finally, each 12 week term includes the memorization and recitation of a previously studied Robert Louis Stevenson poem of the student’s choice.

Creation to Christ’s Poetry Study

Creation to Christ’s poetry study focuses on Robert Frost’s poetry. On day 1, students read and appreciate the poetry of Robert Frost. They also neatly copy a portion of the poem to be included in a watercolor painting project. On Day 2, students use planned painting techniques to illustrate poetry. Next, on Day 3 students further explore poetry moods with painting lessons. On Day 4, students share the poetry of Robert Frost and learn about his life. Finally, students memorize and recite a previously studied Robert Frost poem each 9 week term. Often times, students create a bound booklet of their watercolor poetry painting projects to enjoy for years to come.

Resurrection to Reformation’s Poetry Study

In Resurrection to Reformationstudents enjoy an Emily Dickinson focused poetry study. Each week students enjoy focusing on a new Emily Dickinson poem. Throughout the week, different activities are linked to the poem. Together, parents and students enjoy a rotation of activities. These activities include the following: the introduction of unfamiliar vocabulary, questions and discussion related to the meaning of the poem, lessons focusing on poetic devices, memorization and recitation of previously studied poems, and copywork of selected poems within the Common Place Book.

Revival to Revolution’s Poetry Study

The poetry study in Revival to Revolution makes a return to the study of a variety of famous poets. These poems match the history readings. They add a new dimension to the history study by delving more deeply into the emotions, events, and people of the time period. The poems in this guide differ from previous guides in the level of difficulty, length, and style of the poets. After years of forming a relationship with poetry that was first built on shorter poems, students are now capable of enjoying and comprehending longer and more abstract works. This deeper, more challenging poetry study is meant to provide an excellent stepping-stone to reading and understanding higher-level literature.

The following activities are linked to the poetry: thought-provoking questions related to the meaning of the poem, copywork of selected stanzas within the Student Notebook, links to the historical time period, connections between the poetry and historical events or people, and pertinent background information about some of the poets.

Missions to Modern Marvels’ Poetry Study

In Missions to Modern Marvels, poems are linked to nature journaling. Different classic nature-themed poems written by William Wordsworth, Walt Whitman, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow are studied. Each poem was chosen for its enduring quality, its ability to withstand the test of time, and its capacity to describe nature in vivid ways. These poems complement assignments from Nature Drawing and Journaling once in each unit. As poems are read aloud and discussed with a parent, they add a new dimension to the nature study by helping students appreciate the world around them.

Poetry Study in High School

In high school, students continue to study poetry within the earning of their English credit. They also keep a Common Place Book. They select quotes or passages that are meaningful to them from their classic literature for inclusion in their book. Charlotte Mason advocated this practice throughout high school, and we feel it is an excellent use of students’ time as they watch for notable quotes or passages as they read, select from among them, and accurately copy them into their book for later reference. Continuing copywork of Scripture, of which much is poetry, is another area that is well worth time spent copying. Poetry is one more area that is worth copying, as the structure of the poems, the flow of the words, the sentiments evoked by the poetry, and the style of the poet are reflected.

Many families using Heart of Dakota have shared they were surprised how much their children love poetry!

One of the number one surprises to many families using HOD is how much their kiddos (both boys and girls) are learning to love and appreciate poetry. It is a skill that their kiddos are honing in which the parent often had no previous instruction. As they hone this skill with poetry, the world of literature opens up to them as well, and then their writing pours forth from them later too. It is progression of skills that takes time to come to fruition, but it is a joy to behold as it does!  Best of all, Heart of Dakota doesn’t require the purchase of anything but our guides to enjoy most poetry studies!

In Christ,








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