There are several advantages, which are vital to your family’s well-being, when you keep your child at home, rather than school, and which serve you better too.Read More
The more your child actively uses his mind when he's young, and the more he continues to use his mind as he matures, the smarter he'll become.
We know that the brain is an ever-changing organ. It can weaken from misuse or neglect, and it can also become stronger from the right kind of use.
You want your children to stay into the habit of using their minds as they enter the school years. One of the ways you can help your child strengthen his mind is by providing him with good literature to read when he's older.
Parents say things like, "Well, he only reads comic books, but at least he's reading!"
As John Taylor Gatto once said, "Teach your children to grow up to be readers of more than the daily newspaper."
Comic books are fine for comic relief on occasion. Maybe you're on a road trip or flying cross-country; this might be a time to let your child read a comic book or two or three.
It’s probably prudent not to let comic books work their way into your home though.
Comic books will make his mind lazy because the dialogues are simple and they're full of pictures which help tell the story. When it becomes time to read challenging literature, he won't be able to tackle the vocabulary or follow the longer and more complicated sentence patterns.
He'll complain to you that the book is "boring."
It's not boring; he just hasn't learned to read well. Please do not let him blame the book!
Great books expand the mind and help us to understand the complexities of life and ourselves. If we replaced the department of psychology with a department of Shakespeare, we'd be off to a good start in improving our colleges and universities.
The inner workings of the mind and heart are there in his plays.
Once you get used to the language, Shakespeare is no more difficult to read than authors such as Tolstoy or Dostoevsky.
The ability to read great literature is what you want for your children. You want them to be exposed to the great ideas of Western thought that take us all the way back to Ancient Greece.
John Taylor Gatto was very in support of reading great books. It's where he got the seeds for many of his ideas.
I said there was one thing you need to do to increase your child's intelligence, but as I was writing this, another occurred to me, so there are now two things.
The two things are homeschool your children and expose them to great literature. I say homeschool because, sadly, your children won't get the kind of education they need in public school.
And with a lousy education system comes a dumbed-down people.
Let me share one last thing with you; it’s a poem by Emily Dickinson:
There is no frigate like a book
To take us lands away,
Nor any coursers like a page
Of prancing poetry.
This traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of toll;
How frugal is the chariot
That bears a human soul!
Have your children memorize Emily Dickinson's poem, and supply them with the kind of books that let them travel lands away!
You can join the Smart Homeschooler Academy waiting list to be notified when enrollment opens again for its signature course: How to Give Your Child a Private-School Education at Home.
Elizabeth Y. Hanson combines her training in holistic medicine, “Love and Leadership” parenting coach certificate, plus 17+ years working in education to provide you with a unique approach to raising and educating your children.
A veteran homeschooler herself, she now has two homeschooled children in college.
Poetry memorization imprints beautiful language into the hearts of children. Once a prominent subject in every language arts program, it’s a wonder why poetry is no longer taught in the public schools.
Yet, some of the most literate people I’ve known, both in their vast knowledge of the English language and in their colorful expression of thought, have been poets.
Whether schools offer lessons in poetry or not, it’s something you should be teaching your children at home if you want to improve their language skills, enrich their minds; and even, on a more mundane level–not at all fitting for a discussion of poetry– improve their chances of getting into a better college.
In short, it makes them smarter.
What exactly do children gain from studying poetry, you might ask?
• extensive vocabulary building
• increase in general knowledge
• stimulation of the imagination
• learn creative syntax
• understand simile and metaphor
• versatility with language
As you can see, they gain a lot and all that they gain develops their minds. Let’s examine each benefit one by one.
Looking down the road, and getting the mundane out of the way first, entry into colleges today is highly competitive. If you plan on your children entering a four-year university then good SAT or ACT scores are vital to the process, and part of what the children will be tested on is vocabulary.
Possessing a good vocabulary could give your child the edge he needs to score high.
Exposing children to an extensive vocabulary by reading poetry, especially words they may not learn anywhere else, and memorizing poetry will automatically build their vocabularies.
A larger vocabulary is also associated with higher intelligence, therefore, people who have larger vocabularies are perceived as being more intelligent than others.
Whether they are or not is another matter, but the larger vocabulary they possess at least shows that they are using their minds more which would improve their intelligence according to modern research.
Poets not only have an extensive working vocabulary, but they are well-read and much of their general knowledge about the world is found in their poetry. Hence, reading poetry increases a child’s general knowledge too.
Poetry stimulates the imagination and evokes feelings we can’t always put into words, at least, not to the same effect. Memorizing poetry stirs the workings of the child’s heart.
Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
Poets know how to play with words, and they become masters of the figures of speech like no other. It’s the ability to arrange words in original and powerful ways that makes some writers stand out above the rest. When children memorize poetry, they are memorizing the skilled writing of master poets.
The language of the poet stays in the children’s hearts and later emerges to influence their own use of language both written and spoken. Just the other day I was writing something and I automatically used the phrase “and above all else.” Why? Because long ago I had memorized a line of poetry that contained the same phrase.
Children who memorize and study poetry will be better speakers and writers having been influenced for life by the great poets both past and present.
Simile and Metaphor
As they get older, children will learn about the adornments of language through poetry: simile and metaphor; both powerful tools in good writing and persuasive speech.
Learning how to play with words to create original expressions of thought is the hallmark of the poet. I had a dear friend who has since left this world, Daniel Moore, and he was a great writer though mostly unrecognized during his time.
I seldom laughed as much with anyone as I did with him, because he was funny, but he also had such an enormous vocabulary and he knew how to play with words. Some of the things he used to say would not only have me in stitches, but I’d be silently marveling at his tremendous understanding of the English language.
He knew a lot of words, he knew their meanings, and he knew how to use them.
This is just some of what your children will get from studying and memorizing poetry.
When children memorize poetry, they are not only storing it in their minds, but also in their hearts. It becomes a part of them, and it shapes who they become.
In Gwynne’s Grammar, Mr. Gwynne begins his chapter on verse-writing by saying this:
“Time was when even the most ordinary education included training in competence at writing verse.”
He uses this chapter to define and explain the rules of poetry according to the classical understanding. I’m going to uphold his position here and encourage you to choose good poetry for your children, not the free verse modern stuff that is mistakenly taken for poetry today.
I’ll leave you with a poem my father used to love by his favorite poet after Shakespeare.
The Road Not Taken
by Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
The Smart Homeschooler Academy will launch soon with its signature course: How to Give Your Child a Private-School Education at Home. Join the waiting list!
Elizabeth Y. Hanson combines her training in holistic medicine, parenting, plus 17+ years working in education, to provide you with a unique approach to raising and educating your children.
A veteran homeschooler herself, she now has two homeschooled children in college.