The Power of Poetry


Teaching children how to rhyme and the power of words

Poems are often underestimated in our modern classrooms. A poem might be added to an existing study or used to fill in time. Sadly, they are rarely studied for their own sake.

When children study poetry, and learn to create their own poems, it increases their language skills immensely.

The act of, not only remembering the words, but the rhythm in which they are expressed, plays a powerful part on a child’s ability to learn and recall all kinds of information, not just the poem itself.

How powerful is poetry?

Ask yourself these questions:

Do you still remember nursery rhymes word for word?

Can you sing your favorite childhood television commercial?

Can you still recite a poem you learned at school?

You probably answered yes to all these questions. Most people do. The words, rhyming patterns and musicality of these poetic forms are entrenched into our brains. Are you often surprised how you remember the words to an old song you haven’t heard for years?

We learn most poems, songs and television jingles by rote whether we are aware of it or not. We can still recall them many years later with only the smallest of prompts, like the first few notes of a song or the opening words of a poem.

Memorizing Poems

Poems allow children to utilize the sections of their brains which deals with memorization. Learning to recite a poem out loud from memory is a difficult task. It calls on many different functions of the brain, which work independently to work in tangent at the same time.

When a child is required to memorize a poem, and perform it to their classmates, their brains are being stretched and as a result strengthened. To my knowledge nothing does this to the same extent as poetry.

This ‘strengthening’ of the power of the brain transfers to all other areas of study. Learning to recite simple poems and nursery rhymes at pre-school will improve a child’s ability to absorb, remember and use other information better.

Poems Improve Spelling

When children learn poems which rhyme they are introduced to collections of words which have the same spelling patterns.

They quickly learn that ‘dog’ rhymes with ‘log’, ‘frog’ and ‘bog’. They learn that ‘day’ has the same end letters as ‘say’, ‘bay’ and ‘may’.

They also learn that some words rhyme but they have different spelling patterns. Words such as ‘there’, ‘stair’, and ‘fare’.

Poetry said out loud improves vocalization

Many children have difficulties at some point pronouncing words. However, if you are accustomed to reading poems out loud, they will already have the skills to form unknown words by recognizing the syllables in the word.

Reading and writing are two very important functions in any child’s literacy development. However, reading out loud can reveal just how well he or she pronounces the words.

As an ESL teacher, I know how well my students are absorbing and learning English by how well they read passages out loud. I noticed how students are able to answer complex comprehension exercises, but have no idea how some common words should be pronounced.

Reflecting on poetry

When my mother went to school it was during the Second World War (a very long time ago!). She was forced to learn poems from literature which reflected the history of her culture.

She always encouraged me to learn poems when I was very young. Subsequently, I can still recite long passages some 45 years later.

My mother taught me how much fun poems could be. She had a limited education herself, but deep down she understood the power of words made to rhyme. These words collected together in poems were important to her because they were a reflection of her intelligence and her love of language.

This was her favorite:

There was a donkey one day old, His head was too big for his neck to hold; His legs were shaky, long and loose, They rocked and staggered, but weren’t much use.

He tried to hop and skip a bit, But he wasn’t sure of the trick of it. His coat was curly, soft and grey, And curled up his back in a lovely way.

His face was wistful, and left no doubt, That he felt life needed thinking about. He blundered round in venturesome quest,

Then he lay flat on the ground to rest.

He looked so little, weak and slim, That I prayed the world might be good to him.

(Anonymous)

About the author - Susan Day

Susan Day is an author of 15 books, teacher, and a content marketer. Her blog, Astro’s Adventures Book Club, is full of ideas and tips for grandparents who want to build a strong relationship with their grandchildren. In particular, Susan specializes in helping grandparents share their love of books with their grandchildren. Susan is currently writing a book titled, The Top 10 Things Happy Grandparents Never Regret Doing!

Susan lives in the country of Australia with four dogs, three boss cats, three rescue guinea pigs, and an errant kangaroo. And, apart from blogging, writing and reading; she loves drinking coffee, painting and learning to box.

The Top 10 Things Happy Grandparents Never Regret Doing!

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