Poetry can enrich a child’s life significantly. Here is how to get them interested.
Listening to poetry, reading and writing it can provide children with multiple benefits, from developing language and imagination, to coping with stress.
Choose the poems
The best strategy is to follow your child’s interests. There are poems about everything, from dinosaurs to spaceflights and dolls. Look at websites devoted to children’s poetry.
You may also try choosing a poem that has to do with what’s around your child. For instance, why not read the poem “At the Zoo“ by W.M. Thackeray before actually going to the zoo? You may like “Where My Clothes Are“ by Bruce Lansky when your kid makes a mess at home.
Make them available
Whether your child is a just a toddler or a serious second-grader capable of reading on his own, it is all the same: keep the books in a nice small basket or a shelf that is easily accessible. Encourage your child to choose favorite poems and keep them in a separate folder.
Play poetry games
The choice depends on the age of your child and the situation. Some poetry games are a great way to keep your kid engaged while commuting or waiting in a line, others can be played with a group of kids.
- Encourage your child to make a drawing illustrating his favorite poem.
- Pick a word and, together with your child, find as many rhyming words to it, as possible (you may also say them in turns). If there are two or more kids, divide them in two groups and give them the same task. The younger the children, the easier the prompt word (“cat” or “eye” will suit even the youngest “poets”).
- Who can list more poems in a limited period of time (a minute, for instance)? For this game, you will need a piece of paper and a pen. For “advanced” level, choose a poet or a topic (like poems about summer).
- Name titles of poems in turns.
- Start a rhyme-time routine. Choose a certain day and time when everyone’s at home. In this time, all the family members have to speak only in rhyming couplets (two rhyming lines).
What about teenagers?
The psychological benefits poetry brings are especially obvious when it comes to teenagers. Reading and reciting poems helps to relax and cope with stress, while creating poetry gives a chance to express oneself. You might have heard about the Pongo Teen Writing Project that uses poetry when working with troubled teens.
If your teenager is no more interested in fun poetry games, you may try a more serious approach. Discussing, analyzing poems together can contribute to your child’s interest in poetry. Do not afraid to take controversial or challenging texts, like Sylvia Plath’s “Daddy”. It may make your child feel that you treat him like a grown-up.
Before starting such a discussion, it is a good idea to find a couple of interesting facts that will provide a better understanding of a poem. For instance, in case of “Daddy”, it could be Biography of Sylvia Plath or literary analysis.
Also, you may encourage your teenager to make and share poetry through sites like Movellas or Wattpad.