For Christy. Thank you for asking and the bittersweet trip down memory lane…
We’ve been appreciating poetry and food together for a few years now. In the early years we paired historical treats with a book from our history studies. We adore Beautiful Feet Books (our history curriculum) and pairing poetry and tasty treats just seemed like a good idea to me. I was new to homeschooling and just wanted to make the memories of these years together something special. My original inspiration goes back to my own childhood and a very special military school teacher who taught us the Green Tea
Ceremony while we were learning about Japan. We transformed our school room with paper lanterns, dragons and cherry blossoms. I loved wearing my hair swept up and make-up. My mother’s pretty flowery bathrobe transformed into a lovely kimono. We drank green tea and ate some rice wrapped in seaweed. That day in fourth grade was the best school day of my life. I wanted my kids to have more than one “best day of school ever” experience.
The first poem I read to the kids was Rea Berg’s The Conscience Poem because it was in our history guide. We had just finished our Viking treats and to make the experience more
schoolish (that’s a word right?) I read a poem. I was still new to homeschooling and was constantly worried about not doing enough. So, for every book we finished we enjoyed some treats and I read a poem or two. Eventually, the kids started finding poems to share too.
In July of twenty and fifteen I took some online courses from Julie of Brave Writer. After listening to her wisdom and learning from her experiences I introduced my kids to Poetry Tea Time. The kids were not sure about reading poems every week but they were fine with brownies, cookies and cinnamon rolls every week. In other words, I bribed my kids into loving poetry. Over time we
settled into a Tuesday morning breakfast and poetry. My kids have learned to set a pretty table, make cookies, brownies, cinnamon rolls, sausage, gravy, bread and eggs, recite poetry and enjoy each other’s company. I’m not sure they are aware of that last one yet.
Last year I added music and art appreciation to our poetry studies. I was using materials from Simply Charlotte Mason but the kids moaned and groaned every time I pulled out Bach and Botticelli. We started listening to Bach while preparing the food and setting the table. While we are chatting over our food I would ask a question or two about the music. If a discussion about music followed… great! If not, I chose to quit worrying about the Charlotte Mason Homeschool Police (they exist…just trust me on that one). A couple of months ago I wondered why we only appreciated classical music. I am truly sorry my cultured friends but I would rather listen to John Williams and The Piano Guys than any classical composer. Every week I introduce my kids to a different genre of music. Recent favorites include reggae, bluegrass and 1930’s Big Band music.
After chatting about the music we are hearing the conversation turns to whatever has captured the kids interest; video games, our pets, the birds outside…whatever. Eventually, I’ll turn the music down a bit and pull out an art print. The kids got really tired of the religious art of Botticelli and Giotto (me too!). Right now we are studying my favorite Vincent Van Gogh. I usually share some interesting facts and quotes from the artist and then we turn to the art. Going from Giotto to Van Gogh was like…hmm. Well, I imagine the experience was similar to watching a movie in sound and color for the first time after viewing only silent black and while films. The kids were just blown away by his use of color and the way his paintings seem to have a life of their own. I set aside all of the “how to appreciate art” advice and just listened to my kids. We decide if we like the art first and discuss why. My daughter is very imaginative and sometimes comes up with a little story to share with us. Middle Boy is all about the colors and how the painting makes him feel. Littlest hates everything at first but later will pick out something he likes about a painting…usually his sister’s story. Oldest wonders about the artist and the motivation to create a certain piece. I love our discussions about art, music and poetry. We all love Tuesday mornings together.
We end our time together with poetry. Everyone chooses a poem to read, even Littlest. At first, we just read poems and over time started to discuss them. Some are just silly and fun to listen to; others we just don’t understand. We like to point out favorite word pairings and alliteration. Our favorite poems are the ones about nature and we’ve developed a fondness for Haiku. Sometimes we read poems published on Instagram (I carefully choose these ahead of time) and look at the photos poets paired with their poems.
Our love for this time together evolved over the past five years. I had to let go of the academic drive to teach my kids what is good and beautiful. I had to let go of other’s methods to teach how to appreciate art, music and poetry. Like a disciple I sat at Rea’s feet and absorbed her gentle words of knowledge and boldly danced with Julie. I absorbed what they taught and wove their wisdom into a child led but mama guided experience of home education…way of life. If your kids feel safe to share their thoughts and feelings about art, music and poetry then they will feel safe to share their inner life with you. Our Poetry & Breakfast started out as a way to make history fun and poetry readable. Today, it is the heart of our homeschooling time together.