Memorizing Magic

Louisa and kitten

Louisa and her kitten “Nimbus”

If there is one thing in my homeschool that I am very thankful we’ve done over the years, it is “memory work”. It seems as a natural part of conversation, one of my children mentions a poem they have learned that pertains to the topic we are discussing. For example, today we were talking about prayers that don’t seem to get answered, when Ammon said, “That reminds me of a poem,” and he went on to spontaneously recite, “God Answers Prayers”. It can bring tears to my eyes to hear my teenage boy bring forth from his memory such beautiful words and profound truths that he has learned and stored from years of memorizing.

When do you begin to add memorizing into your child’s life? I start when children are about 4 years old, teaching them a very simple 2 line rhyme or scripture verse. Poems are much easier to learn because the rhyming words help out. I type the poem and print it in large font and add the page to their Memory Notebook (just a 3 ring binder). I have young ones draw a picture on the poem page, so they can remember more easily. Every morning in homeschool, I go over the poem together with my child, helping him to learn faster. This only takes a few minutes, but it is almost magic what a few minutes a day can do, year after year after year.

Poems for Memorization is one of my favorite books to use for providing poems for children because it is organized by grade level and has wholesome, old-fashioned poems.  I have gleaned many poems out of the Pathway Readers also.


Pathway Readers

Once a child is reading, memorizing can go even faster and more independently. I put “Memory Work” as an item on their daily school assignments. When I print out a copy for their Memory Notebook, I also print a couple of extra copies: one for the bathroom wall, and one for the wall next to the chin-up bar. It is amazing how fast a poem can be learned from just reading it over a few times per day. The copy by the chin-up bar works very well because facts can be more easily learned when a child incorporates big muscle movement while learning. So my kids swing and memorize, and benefit from both.

If your children are all on a similar level, the whole family can learn the same poem, but I have found it works better to have a unique poem for each. For one thing, it prevents the other children from piping in when a child is reciting and forgets a line! I usually choose the poems when they are young, but I have found the children often wanting to learn certain poems that their siblings have learned and recited. As children get older, I let them choose from 3 poems that I have selected. By the time they are 12 or 13, they are selecting good quality poems on their own from the books I have.

Here’s our schedule:
Monday: every child gets a new memory verse or poem to learn and reads it through a few times
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday: we work on the poem (or just 1 or 2 stanzas if it is long)
Friday: the children recite the poems to the whole group during homeschool, while I follow along in their Memory Notebook, underlining words that need to be worked on. It is a joy to listen to them! Generally they pass off their poem on Friday, but if it is long or they haven’t got it down, we may extend it one more week.

Best of all, these poems and scriptures stick with them, and provide comfort, truth, hope, courage, understanding and a host of other virtues. By the time they become teens, they enjoy memorizing long poems. My teens have wanted to learn long pieces of their choice, such as “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere” and the “Gettysburg Address”, which they have recited to entertain and inspire at events, such as a 4th of July program.

I hope you enjoy the magic of memorization in your home. It will bless your children forever!

Here is one of our favorite poems to get you started:


If you have hard work to do,
Do it now.

Today the skies are clear and blue,
Tomorrow clouds may come in view,
Yesterday is not for you;
Do it now.

spring-641994_1280If you have a song to sing
Sing it now.
Let the notes of gladness ring
Clear as song of bird in Spring,
Let every day some music bring;
Sing it now.

If you have kind words to say,
Say them now.
Tomorrow may not come your way,
Do a kindness while you may,
Loved ones will not always stay;
Say them now.

If you have a smile to show,
Show it now.
Make hearts happy—roses grow,
Let the friends around you know
The love you have before they go;
Show it now.

                    -Charles R. Skinner


May I recommend:

A Moment for Memorization

Wisdom from Jefferson

Poems for Memorization

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