Connie McCarthy is passionate about her work as a teacher of young children. She has devoted her entire career to making sure that her students do well at school, right from the start. Connie has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education, and a Master’s Degree in Special Education. She has been teaching first grade in East Providence, R.I. for 23 years, where she received the distinction of “Highly Qualified Teacher” by the Rhode Island State Board of Regents. Connie also taught nursery school for four years, and published numerous articles on early education in East Bay Newspapers in Bristol, R.I. She’s also been published in PTO Today Magazine. She lives with her husband, Brian, and has a daughter and a son, both young adults. Connie enjoys reading, writing about elementary education, and taking long walks with friends. During summer vacations, she likes to travel with her husband. She also loves reading readers’ comments on her weekly blog posts.
April is National Poetry Month and this Thursday, April 26, is “Poem in Your Pocket Day.” Both are national celebrations of poetry whereby adults and children are encouraged to share a poem with someone.
Introducing your child to the world of poetry gives him an opportunity to stretch his imagination, practice rhyming, phonics, vocabulary, and other reading and writing skills. Here are 5 easy ways to introduce poetry into your young child’s world.
1. Instead of a bedtime story, read some classic Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes. For example, “Hey diddle, diddle, the cat and the fiddle…” When reading the rhyme, explain that fiddle is another word for violin. Let your child draw and color a picture of a cat and a fiddle. The next night add a cow and a moon. Then later, add a little dog, a dish, and a spoon. Type, or print the rhyme, attach it to your child’s drawing, and then hang it up where she can easily see it and recite the poem. Do similar activities for her other favorite rhymes.
2. Have a family poetry night. Recite a favorite poem that you learned as a child. Let other family members take turns reciting their poem. Saying poems aloud helps your young child hear rhythm, cadence, and correct expression.
3. Together, write a funny poem about your family. “Mom drives a lot, Dad likes to cook, and Mike sweeps the floor, while Meg reads a book!”
4. At the library, get a book of poems for children. Let your child copy or help him write down a few favorites. Keep them in a binder or notebook. As he learns new poems, add them to the collection so they can be read over and over again.
5. Act out a poem. The next time you give her a push on a swing, together recite “The Swing” by Robert Louis Stevenson. “How do you like to go up in a swing, up in the air so blue? Oh, I do think it’s the pleasantest thing that ever a child can do…” It’s a wonderful, classic poem, written from a child’s point of view, about swinging through the air.
Poems can be about any subject. They can make you happy, sad, or even make you giggle. Most importantly, poetry plays a crucial part in helping a young child enrich the language skills needed for good reading and writing. So, encourage your child to put a poem in their pocket and share it this week!