Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization {Review}

I might not be the most eloquent writer, but I have always had an affinity for reading and writing.  Admittedly, poetry was never a specific pursuit of mine, though I did enjoy it on occasion.  Then I began researching homeschooling and learning more about the Charlotte Mason method in particular, and I knew that offering poetry to my children should be a priority, just as much as offering living books.  I just wasn't good at putting it into practice.  We'd read a few poems here and there, occasionally read about a poet, but that was the extent of our foray into the subject of poetry.  When we had the opportunity to review Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization, I was intrigued.  Published by Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) and developed Andrew Pudewa, I assumed it must be a quality program, and I was eager to see if it would finally be the way to integrate poetry into our routine.


Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization  IEW Review

Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization

Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization is a program to help children develop better language skills through the process of memorizing poetry.  To facilitate this review, I received the Teacher's Manual and CDs, which includes everything you need.  The purchase of the teacher's manual entitles you to the e-book version of the Student Book, and as an e-book, it can be used with multiple students.  I did also receive the physical Student Book, thanks to the generosity of IEW, but it is sold separately.  There are five CDs that correlate to each level of the program, and a bonus DVD with Andrew Pudewa's conference speech, Nurturing Competent Communicators.  Let me just tell you now, this talk was eye-opening for me.

Also included with the purchase of the manual are seven downloads.
  • Nurturing Competent Communicators
  • Mastery Learning, Ability Development and Individualized Education
  • Ten Thousand Times and Then Begins Understanding
  • On Listening
  • On Speaking
  • On Reading
  • On Writing

I could write an entire review on just the speeches and the introductory material in the Teacher's Manual.  It is very interesting information about how the brain processes language, how stored language patterns affect writing, how the input of language children receive from media and peers is a detriment to their language and writing, and so on and so forth with the interesting information.  As I was watching the DVD, with a three year old in my lap singing nonsense about belly buttons no less, I felt like I had been enlightened as both their parent and their teacher.  I think I should point out that our daily read-aloud time, from a book of my choosing, has been firmly enforced since then!

Andrew Pudewa makes a compelling case for why we should not only encourage memory work, but why poetry is an excellent choice for memory selections.  Essentially, he says you cannot take something out of the brain that wasn't there in the first place.  We cannot expect children to write well if their brains haven't been filled with "reliably correct and sophisticated language patterns" and so he has specifically chosen poetry that meets this need.  Additionally, the poems are lyrical, easy to memorize and are engaging for boys and girls of all ages.

How Does it Work?

There are five levels to Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization.  Students should all begin at Level 1 and work at their own pace through the program, as it utilizes a mastery approach.  Each day they will practice the previously learned poems, and then they will add a new one when they are ready.  At the end of each level, you can do a little graduation celebration and present them with a certificate, and allow them to recite their poems for a chosen audience.  By Level 5, students transition to speeches.

The student workbook includes a black and white illustration with each poem, so students can color them if they wish, as well as a checklist so they can check off each day that they practice.  Past the first level, this checklist is specifically designed to help you alternate the poems you recite each day, so you aren't reciting them all each day, but frequently enough to keep them committed to memory.  The teacher's manual includes an appendix with ideas to expand on each poem, so you could follow rabbit trails or make little units out of each poem, if you choose.

We started with Level 1 obviously, and my boys have really enjoyed the process!  They love listening to Mr. Pudewa recite the poems.  He really has chosen poems that will appeal to everyone.  The first poem "Ooey Gooey" made all three of my older kids (9, 6, 3) laugh, and my 3 year old proclaimed for days that he was flat and that she saw his GOO!  The boys had moved on before she memorized it, but it didn't take her long, and she was delighted with herself to be able to do the same "school work" as the big kids!  The 9 year old usually memorizes the poems faster than my 6 year old, but that's to be expected.  They still do the daily review together, and in all honesty, this can get a little competitive, but we have really enjoyed learning new poems together.

Final Thoughts

It's not often I gush about a program, but I am very impressed with Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization.  I found the introduction for the parent/teacher to be very informative.  I love that Mr. Pudewa chose a variety of poems, with some being lyrical and more traditional, while others are silly and whimsical.  The program is easy to implement, and really doesn't take much time out of our day, nor does it feel like a chore.  It never receives the groaning or procrastination like certain other subjects, and they love reciting newly memorized poems for dad when he gets home from work.

I appreciate the audio of the poems for a couple of reasons.  First, it's nice to hear someone besides mom.  I caught my 9 year old walk by the CD player one day and press play, just to listen to the poems.  Audio allows children who cannot read fluently to experience the poems with everyone else, without worrying about reading, and it of course appeals to the auditory learner.  It is not easy for any type of curriculum to impress my entire family, but this one does it!  This is a fascinating approach to helping children become better writers, and I am eager to see how it works for us in the long run.

For more information, please be sure to check out more reviews, and find IEW online!  I also wanted to share the IEW Podcasts, which I was excited to find recently!

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Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization  IEW Review

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