As a homeschooler I aspire to an ideal where we create a natural lifestyle of learning. In my mind, my three little cherubs spend the day discussing Shakespeare and nuclear physics over freshly baked muffins (that somehow just appear on our table instead of actually requiring me to, you know, bake them). The reality is a good deal more messy than that of course. Despite all my effort to make school FUN and make learning PART of LIFE, I have one kid who hates school and anything that sneakily resembles it. One who likes it but she’s in kindergarten so she likes everything right now. And one who tolerates school but would rather spend his free time immersed in fantasy novels and annoying his siblings than doing an independent study on astronomy or teaching himself Arabic. (As all the homeschooling families in my mind do.)
However, messy that life is when you have real children and not just figments of imagination, sometimes all the stars align. We began a Unit Study on Poetry this month.Yesterday when I was cleaning out the kitchen cabinet that is sort of the junk drawer, I found an old magnetic poetry set. I decided to stick the words up on the fridge. A bit later three hungry kids invaded the kitchen and did a double take, “What’s on the fridge?”. “Why are there all those little words?” I explained that I’d found them and thought it would be fun to put up. I vaguely had some ideas for ways we could use this with our Unit Study but didn’t tell them that.
And good thing that I kept quiet. Had I explained how this was going to be a great way to make poetry or play with words, they probably would have all groaned and rolled their eyes. As it was, they immediately went over and started reading the words. “Let’s divide them into groups by things like nouns, verbs, adjectives and stuff, ” said one. And so they did. It was all I could do to act cool but inside I was leaping for joy at the amazing grammar review going on in our kitchen. Then they spent a good 30-45 minutes arranging the words into sentences and making short poems.
So if you also have real kids that would rather tell fart jokes than do Euclidian geometry, take hear. There is hope. Spontaneous learning can happen, and it’s a beautiful thing.
April is National Poetry Month! There are oodles of resources for teachers at the Academy of American Poets webite. You can also sign up for their fabulous poem of the day email subscription.