How to Teach Poetry for Homeschool High School

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: How to Teach Poetry for Homeschool High School. This post is running concurrently on the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network.

How to Teach Poetry for Homeschool High School

How to Teach Poetry for Homeschool High School

Everyone who knows 7Sister Vicki, knows she loves poetry and taught her teens (and our local homeschool teens) to love poetry also.

Unfortunately, there are lots of teens teens these days who have been trained by our modern culture to think of poetry in the same way they might think of liver and onions: It might be good for you but UGH! DISGUSTING!

In case your homeschool high schoolers have not had a chance yet to learn to love poetry, Vicki would like to share a few tips on why and how to teach poetry to teens.

One of the ways that Vicki inspired her local homeschoolers to enjoy poetry is teaching them poetry recitation.

When they get started with it, teens actually find memorization and recitation to be rewarding (and even fun). For years, Vicki took the local homeschoolers to the regional speech meets for American Christian Schools International (ACSI allowed homeschoolers to participate as long as we provided judges). Often, our teens’ top performances were in poetry recitation.

At the ACSI speech competitions, there was a school from a large urban area. Most of the teens in the school were immigrants or inner-city youth. This school’s teens were always THE top performers in poetry recitation. Vicki once asked their advisor, Molly, why poetry was prioritized at their school.

Poetry builds skills in: *vocabulary *word usage and *communication

Molly explained that poetry gave her teens words: vocabulary,  word usage and communication skills in general. (She had the track record with these kids, too: Many of them, after high school graduation, went to high-powered colleges and became successful professionals, business people and educators.)

Vicki also saw the power of poetry memorization and recitation when she judged the annual poetry recitation at a local Classical school. The students at this school were mostly immigrant or low income, so would benefit from the skills gained from learning poetry. Many of these kids have graduated and become successful adults- poetry being a small but useful communication tool in their educations.

Why is poetry such a useful communication tool?

Poetry uses words powerfully

Unlike prose, every word in a poem has weight.

Each word is chosen to convey the most emotion and biggest thoughts possible. Every word is chosen for:

  • Sound
  • Rhythm
  • Meaning
  • Purpose

In poetry, homeschool high schoolers learn ordinary and extraordinary words being used in powerful ways.

Vicki’s homeschool high school Language Arts classes had a poetry unit each year. As teens were learning poetry and then moved onto writing their research paper unit, they wrote high quality papers. This is because they had mastered some higher-order word-usage skills in their poetry unit.

Poetry is fun

Studying poetry is powerful when it is presented in a lighthearted fashion. Poetry done with good attitude inspires laughter and learning!

How to teach poetry in a way that teens enjoy

Start with inspiration. Show them a YouTube video each day with a cool poem presentation:

Each week in class or individually:

  • Pull a quote from a poem or about poem

    • for instance: “Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.” T.S. Eliot
  • If in co-op or group class (or even at home), have each teen pick a poem to read to the group.

    • (Any size: haiku or sonnet or longer poem.) This is enormous for confidence boosting, really.
  • Build a word wall.

    • Each week, teens add a word they found this week, with definition. Then share the word and where it was from with the group.
  • Write a poem together each week in the style of the poem being studied that week.

    • DO NOT take this seriously! Allow laughter and silliness.
    • If time, have teens break into groups and write a group poem along the same lines.
  • Each week have homework poem.

    • Share the results between students (pass poems around in class). Teens start enjoying this process after the first couple of weeks!
  • Here are some suggestions:

  • For grading: Download this freebie with grading how-tos and rubric (or use the rubric in the guides).

Read this post if you are planning to teach World Poetry Reading and Writing Guide in a co-op setting.

Remember, all 7Sisters curriculum is no-busywork and is level-able to different interests and abilities.

Join Vicki for a discussion on how to teach poetry with your homeschoolers– and be sure to join us next week!

American Poetry might spark your student’s interest in poetry! Also, for teens who get excited and want a full year/full credit of poetry, here’s a syllabus for a poetry credit to walk them through the process.



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How to Teach Poetry for Homeschool High School

Vicki Tillman

Blogger, curriculum developer at, counselor, life and career coach, SYMBIS guide, speaker, prayer person. 20+year veteran homeschool mom.

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