Research has shown that introducing poetry to children at earlier ages, and encouraging them to memorize it, has significant benefits.
Poetry is an art form. Its power to evoke emotions and thoughts within readers using only a few words and syllables, to create timeless melodies and rhythms that sustain cultures and memories for ages, and most importantly, to develop our appreciation and intellect is truly unmatched.
The true beauty of power lies in the fact that it is entirely open to interpretation. There is no set of rules or laws that have to abided by when writing or reading poetry, allowing creativity to flow and imagination to be sparked. Unfortunately, many parents and teachers nowadays are reluctant to introduce poetry to children, thinking that it’s burdensome and far beyond their years. Research has shown that introducing poetry to children at earlier ages, and encouraging them to memorize it, has significant benefits.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of reading, and memorizing, poetry, aside from an appreciation for a wondrous art form, is the immensely beneficial role it plays in the development of one’s mind and intellectual ability. Children, in particular, are undergoing a stage of life in which they experience the most intellectual growth and changes, and poetry can help shape the framework and basis of their minds and encourage them to become more analytical and inquisitive by nature.
Memorizing English poetry can work wonders for English speakers and writers. Not only will it help instill an intrinsic appreciation for rhythm and melody-production created through manipulation of words and syllables and their arrangement, but will also help them articulate English words, of a more eloquent vocabulary, which will go on to help them greatly as they progress through schooling. Susan Wise Bauer, author of The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had, says that memorization of poetry helps children learn to use complex English syntax. A student who memorizes poetry at an early age will have garnered a cache of easily applicable phrases and vocabulary, and will have an easier time adjusting to writing potently and effectively as they get older.
Language is our mode of communication, and mastering it at an early age, or at the least being exposed to some exemplary examples of it, is beneficiary in all aspects of life. “The student who memorizes poetry will internalize the rhythmic, beautiful patterns of the English language. These patterns then become part of the student’s language store, those wells that we all use every day in writing and speaking.” – In Defense of Memorization by Michael Knox Beran. A child’s ability to express themselves and communicate with others can be greatly enriched from an exposure to poetry.
Furthermore, finding solace in poetry that expresses the emotions and sentiments so sincere and deep that their existence may be unbeknownst to the beholder themselves is truly a remarkable feeling. Especially for children, who have not yet developed the full palette of emotions, who may not yet know how to characterize some of their feelings and thoughts, reading a poem that shares the same feelings as them can help them feel as though they are not alone. Poetry connects people, from different cultures, different generations, different societies, and it allows an appreciation for both diversity and unity; an appreciation that is vital in one’s development as an open-minded individual in today’s society.
Here’s a set of easy-to-follow tips for memorizing poetry, as provided by MensaForKids:
- Read the poem slowly and carefully,then practice reading it out loud. It’s important to verbally express the words of the poem to get a sense of the rhythm and flow.
- Rewrite the poem yourself, try your best to keep the structure of stanzas and lines of the original poem.
- Read the poem out loud once more.
- Cover the poem using a blank piece of paper, so that you can only see the first line. Repeat the line to yourself three times, then look away from the poem and try to recount the line from memory.
- Repeat this process with the rest of the lines of each stanza.
- Then, continue on doing the same thing with each stanza, each time recounting the past two stanzas to see if you can remember them. Do this until you reach the end of the poem.
- Now that the poem is engrained in your short-term memory, here are some easy steps to follow so that you’ll remember them for a long time:
- Record yourself reading the poem and listen to it whenever you can, or if you can find an audio recording of the poem, listen to that.
- Read the poem out loud anytime you’re walking by yourself.
- Read the poem to your parents or anyone else who’s willing to listen.
- Say the poem out loud whenever you’re alone (in the shower, exercising, any daily activity you can.)
- Rewrite the poem over and over, writing has been proven to help with memorization and engraving things in long-term memory.
- Read it to yourself (in your head) whenever you’re bored or aren’t paying attention in class or other situations.
It may seem daunting at first, but the rewards that accompany an appreciation for poetry, developed at an early age, will definitely prove to be worthwhile.