I don't often have a chance to listen to homeschool speakers, but a few summers ago I downloaded a few dozen audio talks to listen to on a long road trip. (All the children had their own electronic devices and headphones.) My favorite talks from that trip were recordings of Andrew Pudewa from Instititute for Excellence in Writing talk about communication skills, language development, and learning in general.
One thing Andrew Pudewa said that sticks out in my mind is that kids need to hear "reliably correct and sophisticated language patterns" so that they have can produce quality written work. That quote is repeated in the introductory pages of the Teacher's Manual for the Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization program.
"You can't get something out of a child's brain that isn't in there to begin with. If he is a native speaker of English, he needs one thing above all else, and that is this: a large database in his brain of reliably correct and sophisticated language patterns." (p. 5)
Memorization, especially poetry memorizations, helps student build a rich language database that will later enable them to be effective writers in years to come.
The Language Development through Poetry Memorization program includes the Teacher's Manual, a set of five CDs which contain audio versions of all five levels of poems/speeches, and a DVD recording of Andrew Pudewa's talk "Nurturing Competent Communicators." In addition, the materials include codes so that I could download a total of seven audio MP3s (including Nurturing Competent Communicators). The student pages are included in the program as a pdf file for you to print yourself or can be purchased separately as a printed notebook.
In the past, I tried to introduce poetry memorization into our days but was never able to do it consistently. This program is working for us. More importantly, Lauren loves it.
The audio recordings of the poems are fabulous. I've loaded the first set on my iPhone so that it's easy for me to play them whenever we're ready to study. Having the printed copies of the poems is good, but the audio versions make study more accessible and fun. Lauren is also learning the value of vocal expressions by listen to Andrew Pudewa read the poems. Honestly, he does a better job of reading the poems than I would, and it's easy to replay them over and over when it's not me having to do the reading each time.
Lauren's favorite poem is the first one of the series, perhaps because she gets the joke. You can tell she's picked up on the art of being expressive when reciting poetry.
Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization is based on the mastery approach to learning. The student learns one piece until they can recite it without any mistakes before moving on. When a second poem is added, the student recites both the old poem and the new one. The first few poems were relatively short, and Lauren memorized them in only a few days each. The one she is working on now, "After the Party" by William Wise, is a bit longer. She's working on learning a stanza per day for it and will likely take more than a week to get the whole thing perfected.
We've been using the Student Pages for her to follow along with while we play the audio version of the poem, and often she looks back at the printed poem when she practices on her own. After she finishes learning a poem, she colors the picture. All in all, we spend no more than 10 minutes per day working on poetry, with some additional coloring time on those days. I'll share both her student page and her recitation of this poem. (She insisted that I needed to include two videos in this review).
The Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization has been a valuable and fun addition to our homeschool days. I look forward to learning the rest of the poems with Lauren. More importantly, I look forward to seeing her writing improve as she attains a large database of "reliably correct and sophisticated language patterns" over the next few years.
The set is available from Institute for Excellence in Writing for $65 and is suitable for students of all ages. Printed copies of the student pages are available separately for $19 each.