As an eclectic program, The Learn + Live Letter loves to collect our favorite ideas from popular homeschooling styles and philosophies and bring them to you in a manageable, easy to follow format. Tea + Poetry is one of our favorite ideas borrowed from the Brave Writer. Many Charlotte Mason families also enjoy this popular tradition because it lends itself to reading fine literature, which is so important to those who follow that homeschooling style. But what is Tea + Poetry, and why is it beneficial?
Tea + Poetry provides an opportunity to regularly prepare food together.
At its core, Tea + Poetry is a simple idea: You prepare tea and snacks and enjoy them while reading poetry out loud with your child. But beneath the surface, so much more is being accomplished with this tradition.
Spending time in the kitchen with our children is a wonderful opportunity to make connections, practice life skills, and reinforce math and literacy. Children get to practice following directions, setting a table as they wait for their cookies, cakes, and dessert to bake and cool. (Or whatever snack you decide to enjoy together!) Sitting together for a snack also provides a wonderful opportunity for you to demonstrate table manners and taking turns. The best part of Tea + Poetry is being able to enjoy eating together, enjoying the company and the conversation.
Tea + Poetry introduces your children to beautiful words.
We all know the value of reading to our children, but there is also much value in introducing different forms of literature to them. Poetry is often an underutilized written form among families, perhaps because we are intimidated at the prospect of trying to understand it and explain it. But don’t shy away completely! Instead, take the fear out of reading poetry by choosing simple poems. This is why we suggest the poetry book Sing a Song of Seasons. They are short and manageable poms, and they have illustrations to help us understand them. They are also seasonal, and so they tie in nicely with many of our unit study themes. Most importantly, the vocabulary is diverse and beautiful, so it exposes your child to lovely words and a new way of using them. Many of the poems also help your child hear rhythm and teach rhyming, which are skills they can build on in both music and literacy as they continue in their education.
Tea + Poetry doesn’t have to be fancy—or even include tea.
The purpose of this routine is to bring literature to your homeschool in a unique way—to encourage discussions and the sharing of ideas and opinions. Meaning if your child is not a fan of tea, it’s okay to drink something else! Warm cups of hot chocolate or a cold glass of milk work, too. And if you don’t have time to bake, store bought goodies can taste just as delicious.
The same principle applies to how you serve. Some families like to set fancy tables, others prefer to make a picnic and take Tea + Poetry outside. You can include friends and make it a social engagement. The important thing is that you are bringing literature into your routine in a positive way. Start with short sessions, especially with younger children. Older children may want to pick out the poetry you read. Add music to the background to help set the mood, if desired. The point is to make it consistent—and make it your own!
Tea + Poetry can springboard into other lessons.
As is often the case with our lessons, we want you to follow your child’s lead and take the idea further if your child is engaged. Here are a few ways that Tea + Poetry can become more:
- Take a sentence (for early writers) or an entire stanza (for older children) of the poem and turn it into copywork. (For more tips on copywork, read this article by one of our expert Charlotte Mason contributors.) Once your child has had time to read and discuss the words in the poem, give them lined paper to practice copywork. Older children may even want to start a poetry journal with their favorite pieces.
- An artistic student might want to draw a picture that relates to the poem. They too may want to start a poetry journal that includes illustrations.
- Do you have a budding writer? An older child might be inspired to write their own poems. Give them the space and time they need to express their thoughts in this artistic form of expression.
Your unit studies with the Learn + Live Letter will often include suggestions for Tea + Poetry, but we encourage you to make these lessons your own. You will see over time that your child—and you!—will cherish the tradition, from the food to the literature to the time spent together.
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