YMB #8 Start With Wonder: A Conversation with Nicholas Ireland


Nicholas Ireland, a father of two, teaches humanities to middle schoolers at a classical school in Alabama. On this episode of the podcast, he tackles the subject of poetry.

Why is poetry important? What poems should I start with? What makes good poetry good? What if I don’t understand poetry? What questions should I ask my kids when we talk about the poems we read?

Nicholas answers all these questions and more, plus gives us enough recommendations to keep us busy reading excellent poems for a long, long time. Enjoy!

father reading poetry to boys


This is Your Morning Basket, where we help you bring truth, goodness and beauty to your homeschool day.

Hi everyone, and welcome to episode 8 of the podcast. I’m Pam Barnhill, your host, and I’m so happy that you’re joining me today. Well today we get to talk about one of my absolute favorite subjects on the show, but I realized that poetry is not something that everyone enjoys and actually, I hope that we’re here to change all of that today. I think one of the number one reasons that many people don’t like poetry is because they’re intimidated by it, or actually, they’re intimidated by the way they were taught about poetry in their educational experiences. So maybe we can move past that today with some of the tips that we have on the podcast. So sit back and I hope you enjoy and maybe come away with a new view of poetry and how you can share it with your children.

Nicholas Ireland is a graduate of the University of Tennessee where he studied humanities and philosophy. Now, he spends his time teaching humanities to 8th grade boys at Providence Christian School in Alabama where he lives with his wife, Melissa, and his two adorable little boys. Last spring at our local homeschool conference he led a session all about diving into poetry with your kids and all the homeschool moms were raving about this one. He’s joining us today to share about how we can incorporate great poetry into our Morning Times without fear. Nicholas, welcome to the program.

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Nicholas: Thank you, glad to be here.
Pam: Let’s talk a little bit about the importance of poetry. If I’m a homeschool mom and maybe poetry isn’t my thing, why is it important to do poetry with my children?
Nicholas: If you’re a parent trying to educate your child in the Scriptures, first of all, if that’s important to you, and that was the first thing I thought about, so much of God’s Word is communicated through poetry. The very first words that man ever spoke were poetry; they said, “At last, this is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” and so that’s a starting point for me is, there is something innate to our being human where we want to express things and as song or as poetry where it could be expressed through prose and a lot can be expressed through prose but we seem to have this desire to use our language differently and to use the kind of things that are found in poetry that give expression to who we are and what we’re feeling and what we’re experiencing.
Pam: Cindy Rollins says that poetry forces us to think metaphorically, and I think that’s a very interesting concept that it causes us to think differently than how we normally think.
Nicholas: Sometimes westerners get so caught up in, and certainly as a logic teacher teaching categorical logic (this is this, and truth values and making statements) but not all truth is that way, there’s a lot of analogical truth as well and we understand a lot of things through analogy and I think that’s part of who we are as human beings.
Pam: Having that great exposure to poetry really helps us to see things in analogies better by having that repeated exposure.
Nicholas: And think about how often God communicates to us in that same way and communicates himself to us in that same way. It’s really striking when you think about. How many analogies Christ himself uses or is throughout the Scriptures (God is a rock- that’s not a categorical truth, he’s not a rock, but he communicates himself to us in that way and since so many others).
Pam: Why do you think it is that poetry intimidates some people?
Nicholas: We have to be able to understand it to be able to enjoy it, and that’s certainly true with poetry if we have time, I would certainly read this short poem by Billy Collins called Introduction to Poetry and I will recommend and do recommend it to folks. It’s in his collection of poems called Sailing Alone Around the Room. He just talks about how he can’t get his students to read a poem and just let their minds wander through it and just let it be a part of them. He can’t get his students to play with it. All they want to do is find out what it really means. I think poetry is pretty dense stuff and heady stuff. And if people are approaching with this necessity of ‘I have to really understand it and master it’ I think most people just aren’t going to do it.
Pam: So you think it’s this tension that we have within ourselves when faced with a poem that, for some reason, we have to get to the deeper meaning in it and we can’t just sit back and enjoy it?
Nicholas: I’ll speak for myself and that was certainly true of me. Even as an English major I was well out of college before I think I really started enjoying poetry. I read it a lot and there was a lot that I liked about it but in terms of picking up an anthology or a picking up a collection and just really sitting down and enjoying some poetry for the evening was not something I did much until into my 20’s.
Pam: So, what was it that made the difference for you? What was the turning point that allowed you to overcome that intimidation and start enjoying it more?
Nicholas: Well, I know one was just an experience with certain poets that did that to me. One of those would be Gerard Manley Hopkins who I read a little bit of in college and enjoyed but it wasn’t until I came back to a poem or two of his and a friend maybe was just engaging with that poem when I was at summer camp as a counselor and I just saw him really delighting that poem and I thought ‘there must be something here’ and to this day when I read Hopkins it’s one of the most pleasurable things that I do. It’s certainly one of the most pleasurable things that I read. A modern day poet, a contemporary poet named Luci Shaw is one who has had a similar effect on me and I would say she mimics or channels Hopkins quite a bit in her poetry. Just realizing that I could sit down with their poetry and then branching out from there, the way we all do with music, “Oh I like this musician,” sort of a Pandora model, people like this- they’re similar in some ways- but then you branch out more and more.
Pam: We need a Pandora for poetry; that would awesome.
Nicholas: That would be great. We’ll work on the Poem G-nome project, and I would add to that Billy Collins as well, I think Billy Collins, for me, he’s not everyone’s favorite and in academia I don’t think he’s anyone’s favorite but I think he’s a wonderful poet who can really make poetry a lot of fun and I think he’s pretty insightful. Reading and finding a couple of poets that you just happen to enjoy can be a bridge to a whole bunch of others that you can also enjoy.
Pam: Searching for that one, and I’m sure that there’s one out there for everybody who’s going to give a spark that you’re just going to really fall into and really, really like. Well, let’s talk a little bit about poetry with your children because I think this is probably a great way for a lot of moms who have not found poetry horribly approachable in the past would be to start looking at some poems that are aimed at or geared towards their children a little bit and they can start enjoying those. I know that I was really not aware of say, Robert Louis Stevenson from my own childhood for whatever reason and in just reading him with my children and seeing their delight in him I’ve started to take more delight in his poems. We read his about the blocks today and it was such a delightful little piece and something that they totally understood. So using those poems that are aimed a little bit more towards children I think is a great way for some parents to get their feet wet in a non-intimidating way. Let’s talk a little bit about how you can share poetry with your children at home.
Nicholas: I’m going to butcher C. S. Lewis here who said, in reference to children’s literature, I think you’ve heard the quote that literature that’s fit only to be read by children is not fit to be read at all.
Pam: Yes! No, you didn’t butcher that one.
Nicholas: I do feel similarly about poetry. I think you find those greats, like Robert Louis Stevenson, Lewis Carroll- guys who are really, really thoughtful artists and authors and thinkers, first and foremost, who then write poetry. It was like even in the world of fiction or music I’d rather read or listen to an artist who is a Christian than a Christian artist, same thing with novels and things. Maybe it’s a slight nuance; it seems to play out in a much less subtle way. I think there is a big difference between those poems and books for that matter that are written solely for children, aimed at children, and I tend to stay away from those even though I really like Shel Silverstein when I was growing up, he’s not my go to guy right now for when I’m recommending poetry to kids, when I’m reading poetry with my own kids. I think it’s important for them to hear excellent writing and to be exposed to what is excellent. I think it’s important to find those good poets who also happen to resonate with children.
Pam: So, let’s help everybody out. Give me a few people that you would really recommend.
Nicholas: Well, I mentioned a couple: Lewis Caroll has several that are great for kids to read. Ogden Nash is hilarious.
Pam: Yes he is.
Nicholas: And a lot of his are shorter and about animals and just his rhymes. [**inaudible** 9:53] really off the wall are great. If your kids can handle just a little bit of off-color language his poem The Common Cold is avarice, it’s one of my favorites. Rudyard Kipling I think writes good poetry, the kids can resonate with, and that seems I’m leaving a couple out.
Pam: We actually happen to be big Hilaire Belloc fans around here, I don’t know if you’ve read very much of his stuff.
Nicholas: No, that’s someone I’m not familiar with.
Pam: The Yak is one of his and The Vulture is another one. Those are some that we really enjoy; another animal guy.
Nicholas: I don’t know how many others he has that resonate well but Robert Service who wrote, The Cremation of Sam McGee. I think ballads like that are great. Longfellow and his ballads, because again you get The Midnight Rider of Paul Revere and things like that. Starting at a fairly young age they enjoy the story behind those poems and they’re so well written and then I would just actually recommend one ballad that I’ve found really, really useful is called A Child’s Anthology of Poetry. The one I have is by Ecco Press. I think the compiler, if I’m not mistaken, the editor is Elizabeth Sword, so that’s a book that I’ve found really useful when I taught 5th grade, it was great. I’d just turn them loose with that sometime, a kid who just had some spare time and say, “Just flip through and find a poem that you like in here and let’s talk about why you like it and we’ll read it in front of the class.” And then when I was working with my 7th graders a couple of years ago in an English class most of the poems I picked were out of there and the poems are far from childish but many of them are really great for children.
Pam: What are some techniques a mom might use in helping her kids get familiar with poetry? You’ve mentioned handing an anthology over to a child and letting them find one. What are some other things we could do?
Nicholas: Well, I’m assuming they’re going to be sitting down enjoying the poem with them, that’s a given, and so I think just reading through poems with them. I was amazed the other day, I was reading an article from the Circe Institute about getting your children to love reading, I hadn’t read much of the article and there was a hyperlink to “because of this video” and I thought, ‘This is going to be some great videos from Circe Institute’ and I click it and it’s a three year old reciting a poem by Billy Collins called, Litany, which is a really great poem. It was really funny to hear this three year old reciting it, but as I was doing that, my son, Lucas walked in and he’s four and he listened to it with me and then he said, “Well, let’s do another one” and YouTube has those little sidebar things that you hope are decent and sure enough there were several options there and we started clicking on them and we probably listened to, at that moment, just five or six poems and he really enjoyed just hearing the poems read sometimes by the poet himself. We listened to some by Robert Frost and some by Billy Collins and there were some others. There’s a little bit of screening you’re going to want to do there because sometimes people will post, kind of, silly- just the way they posted on there, it’s more ironic the video they do instead of actually enjoying the poetry. But any time you can get the video or audio of a poet reading his own stuff I’ve found to be really neat, or somebody else reading the poem really well.
Pam: So, it’s kind of like a poetry slam there at the house?
Nicholas: It was fun. We haven’t done that much but it was just a couple of days ago that we did it, and he’s asked me a couple of times since then, “Can we watch more poems?” “Sure, that’s really cool.” And I use that as a jumping off point with him to say, kind of an intrinsic reward, well, we’ll keep listening but when you find one that you really like, we’re going to start working on that one, we’re going to memorize it ourselves. He listened to Casey at the Bat which is a bit too- he could do it but it’s a bit long right now. There were several that we listened to that I thought would be nice even Carl Sanburg’s The Fog Creeps on Little Cat Feet which is about six lines long and he enjoyed that. I’ve been thinking it could be a really good way to get him to do more of the same to mimic what he sees there and memorize some poems himself.
Pam: What role do you think memorization plays in enjoying poetry?
Nicholas: Oh tremendous, for a couple of reasons. There’s nothing like replaying these and again, I keep coming back to music because it’s so musical as we all understand, just to keep coming back to these beautiful sounds, or really clever word combinations or great images and to be really replay those with specificity through our minds or even say them out loud. I can’t tell you from memorizing some poems and I’m just driving and maybe I’m weird but some people sing in the car, I guess, more spiritual people probably pray in the car, and I just recite some of these poems, and it really delights me. I think obviously the mental faculty of memorizing something and memorizing something that’s really good. The opportunity to share with other people is great. Sometimes poets they just say the right thing in the right way and it’s fitting to the circumstance and you can, for lack of a better word, really bless other people, benefit other people by sharing those words with them, so I think that’s a value in memorizing it. It’ll be something they’ll carry with them as they become writers themselves and they’ll have it in their minds just how words sound together, what the rhythm of words is like. There are probably others but that’s a handful of good reasons.
Pam: I have found my good anthology and I’m ready to start doing some poetry with my children. Is there anything I should be doing before, during, and after reading this poem to help my kids enjoy and understand it better?
Nicholas: Sure. Beforehand, find the poems that you like, and that’s what I emphasize in that workshop more than anything, is at least for starters don’t, out of some sense of obligation, feel like you have to subject yourself to some poem that you don’t like. Now, there may be a time to read it later, I’m not saying down with the poems that you don’t like because they may be really valuable and worthwhile, at least for the beginning, like we said earlier, there’s something out there for everybody; find poems that you like, that make you smile, that really delight you, or that really gets you thinking, or catches your attention for one reason or another. And I think with most things, if you’re sharing these poems that you found, that you have an interest in them, your kids are going to be much quicker to pick up on those and to enjoy those as opposed to saying, ‘OK, Rudyard Kipling’s If makes the top 10 list on everybody’s list so we’re going to memorize that one first.’ It’s a great poem but it may not resonate with you or with your kids or this particular time in your life, and hopefully it will later. So I would say beforehand just find the handful that you like. Maybe find some of those readings that you really like, someone who reads it really well. I’ll just slide in here real quick Librivox.org is a pretty good site that has a lot of audio recordings; they’re free, from works that are in the public domain. I’m going to plug one here- a guy name Allen Davidson Drake reads a poem, the Jabberwocky and he may have two different readings on there but he’s either a really good faker or he has a really, really thick (it must be a Bronx, I don’t know, I’m from the south so all Yankees sound alike to me) it’s just such a great reading. So finding things like that, I think. I’ve even had kids who memorized Jabberwocky; this very, very southern Alabama girl she actually read the Jabberwocky in his accent because she had listened to it so many times, so that was pretty hilarious. During, just encourage the kids to read it, to read the words themselves, ask them if they like it. I’ve found that to be really useful- what do you like about this poem? Get them to think about, other than it’s short, which is what most of my 7th grade boys would say, find that thing that you like (“well, I like the rhymes”) OK, that’s great, that’s enough for right now. And then afterwards, I’ve found myself and my older kids, again 7th graders, just saying ‘Rate the poem 1 to 5 and just tell me why you rate it that way.’ It gets them to think of it in relation to other poems they’ve read; in terms, “I liked it more than this one because of [that] or less than that one because of [that].”
Pam: So then they’re making those comparisons.
Nicholas: And I love that. I think later on the question could be “What do you think this means?” It’s not a bad question; it’s just a bad question to start with. It’s not the first question I’d ask after reading a poem because I’m not sure… I think we’ve all walked through art museums. Sometimes a particular room or a particular artist just takes your breath away and it’s completely separate from the message they’re communicating it’s just what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. I’ll liken it to watching a sunrise or a sunset. I’ve never sat there at a sunset and explained to my kid, “Well, son, the way the sun’s refracting through the dust particles in the air is what’s causing that streak right there.” We don’t do that. We just go, “Ah, beautiful. Wow!” And I think sometimes that exalts the Creator of that sunset. We see beetles outside and sometimes inside and we marvel at those things. Maybe later on the understanding of what makes a beetle work or makes grass grow may be a worthwhile conversation and helps us appreciate the beetle more and the grass more and the lizard, or whatever it is. But it’s very seldom where we start with anything else, so that’s just my little plug there about poems. Start in the right place and just delight in the poem and the beauty of the poem itself and what’s delightful and good. That usually resonates with us anyway.
Pam: Can you help give me a little cheat sheet? If it’s been a number of years since I’ve done any kind of literature and I’m reading these poems with my children and I know that in there, there are some devices, some different kinds of language that’s going on, could you just help give me a little cheat sheet of some things that I might look for?
Nicholas: Before I give you my cheat sheet I’m going to give you Suzanne Clark who wrote a very helpful book called, The Roar on the Other Side. It’s a very practical book for writing poetry and for getting students/kids to write poetry and also for teaching a lot of the elements that are in there. It’s not a very big book; it’s put out by Cannon Press. I’ve found it really useful when I’ve taught some kids of varying ages several years ago, kind of an extended poetry workshop, so I do recommend Suzanne Clark’s book, The Roar on the Other Side. It also has a lot of really great poems in it. She has a good appendix with a whole bunch of poems in there that are a good starting place. What do you listen for? I’d start (because my favorite poet is Hopkins) with alliteration because he does that really well. That’s the repetition of consonant sounds or sounds at the beginnings of words. It’s not rhyming when he says, “The world is charged with a grandeur of God, it will flame out like shining from shook foil.” You get a sense of those first sounds: shining, shook, foil, grandeur, and God. So that’s all alliteration, and that’s probably the most playful device that we have, when you’re really going to have fun with words, and maybe other people besides me and some of my friends have done this where we’ve purposely when we’re talking try to alliterate as much as we can and giggle about it a little bit, and you say things in a funny way. So that’s big if you’re ever reading Anglo-Saxon poetry like Beowulf. A good translation of that will maintain the alliteration was really important. They alliterated instead of rhyming. Rhyming was brought in by basically the French. I didn’t say that with disgust on purpose, but Beowulf is a good example. If you read Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, which is a medieval poem after the Norman Conquest (William the Conqueror), then you see that it has both the English acts in alliteration very strong in it, but it also has a very strong rhyming element so you see those two things come in together. Those are both fun. So obviously the second one will be rhyming and most of us know how to do that and know what that looks like. It can be done really well or it can be done really poorly, obviously, and we can see something really childish rhymes, if they’re real, real hard rhymes at the end of lines, but they’re more fun when they’re worked into the middle of a line, you can see that, or when the line doesn’t stop at the end, there’s no punctuation that stops it so the rhyme, sort of, gets lost in the flow of the language. It’s neat sometimes to go back and re-read a poem carefully and realize it was rhyming a whole lot more than you thought it was. And I will say those are two rhyming certainly, it’s almost out noted. I don’t know that many poets today consistently write with any kind of rhyme scheme, like a regular rhyming plan at the end of every other line or every line or whatever, there was kind of a move in the, we were talking about the moderns that we were talking about earlier and a little before then, but certainly with the modern age where they were trying to throw off some of the standards and forms and we were just saying they were called more free. Some people have done it before then but in terms of valuable to them they basically said that rhyming became a whole lot less valuable in poetry and they wanted to write something that was totally free, so you still get people like William Carlos Williams who writes that famous poem, The Red Wheelbarrow: so much depends upon a red wheelbarrow glazed with rain water beside the white chickens. And that’s the end of the poem. Not much rhyming in there, not much of anything that we’ve been talking about and yet it’s considered a good poem and I would concur, for what that’s worth. So that’s something- images. So we’ve gone from sounds (alliteration and rhyming, now to the things like images. So what are the visual things that happen when you’re reading a poem? And that can happen through sound. Again, like that Hopkins example, ‘it will flame out like shining from shook foil’ that’s a resplendor line, you see light shining all over that thing and reflecting off of it. But then we get other images and there’s some great Scriptural ones too, ‘your wound is incurable’ is part of Isaiah, ‘you’re sick from head to foot’ or we get ‘all of our righteous works are filthy rags’ those are really strong images. Another one is the Proverb ‘as a dog returns to his vomit so a man returns to his sin.’ I didn’t mean to pick three negative examples but we get these strong images that should illicit some kind of emotional gut response.
Pam: So these are the pictures that we’re seeing in our head in response to the words that we’re reading on the page.
Nicholas: Absolutely. And again, that can be elicited either through the word itself or even through the sound of the word. One of Suzanne Clarke’s exercises she uses in the Roar on the Other Side, one of my favorite poetic exercises, is she draws two shapes and real quickly, one of them is like a glob. Real rounded edges, and the other one has real sharp edges, a lot of pokies. And she says that one of these is named Una and one of these is named Keepik, which is which? That’s the only problem she gives you. It’s almost 100% (unless someone’s trying to mess with you) they always make Una the real flowy one and Keepik the real sharp one. Well, why? Why would it be? And yet, we all know that Una sounds round. Well, what do you mean it sounds round? How could something sound round? Round is a shape. It just has that sort of feel to it. The word has a feeling? It’s really fun to do an exercise like that with the kids, and then you keep on going and you say one’s a snare drum and one’s a tuba, one’s a lemon and one’s a melon, and so there’s some fun stuff to do with exercises like that, but it’s amazing what our brains do with a sound and how sensory a sound or a word can actually be.
Pam: That’s really interesting. I went to a workshop a few years ago with Michael Clay Thompson (Michael Clay Thompson Language Art) he was talking about Shakespeare and how the witches in Macbeth and they’re using all of these d’s and g’s in these real guttural consonants in their speech but then you have someone like Romeo in Romeo and Juliet and he’s using softer sounds, he’s using these s’s and these round vowels sounds in his speech, and it was totally done on purpose. It’s amazing to think about how poets manipulate sounds in such a manner to make either these round soft images in our brain or these guttural sharp images in our brain.
Nicholas: That’s just the incredible thing about the way that language works and the way that our minds work and I’ve not read extensive studies but it’s fairly universal some sounds just always illicit the same reaction from people in any culture no matter where you are, and that’s pretty fascinating too, but that’s probably another conversation.
Pam: So we have alliteration and rhyme and we just talked about the images. Do you have anything else for us?
Nicholas: There’s meter, which is again, how they string the syllables, the accent and syllables of the word together, and so most poetry and most spoken word is in something called iambic. We tend to speak alternating and in a poem you look at the general trend. If you look at the stress syllables you’ll see how they typically fall, so in Robert Frost’s famous poem ‘two roads diverged in the yellow wood’ we don’t read it like that “two roads … diverged … in the yellow wood” but we do read it like that, in a less accented way. Most of what Shakespeare wrote was in iambic, and usually what they call iambic pentameter, these are big words just meaning iambic has that same stress pretty much throughout the line and then the meters or the pentameter is how many of those iam’s there are. So if they’re five of them that’s pentameter, four would be tritameter, and three would be trimeter for a really short line of poetry.
Pam: So I think before we lose people, one of the things that is like most things are kind of in this iambic flow but I think one of the things that our ear probably tends to pick up is when that’s broken.
Nicholas: Yes, well said. And so, what a poet’s going to do is they’re going to try to jar you with a little bit. I wish I could just think of an example right off the top of my head of something that I just knew but I can’t. Give me five minutes after we’ve finished talking and I’ll probably have three or four examples. So they’ll jar you, or they’ll change it on you and normally what’s going on there is they’re usually trying to get your attention or emphasize something that, again, that’s communicated not with words and that’s probably the magnificent poetry in prose, good prose, which can be just as beautiful as poetry. In fact, another way I learned to love poetry was by reading the prose of Annie Dillard, one of my favorite authors, and she writes no poetry but her prose is just beautiful. It’s so poetic it got me reading a lot more poetry. A poet, because he just has more tools in his bag than a prose writer can do things, and like I said, I wish I had something right off the top of my head to give you there.
Pam: I kind of put you on the spot.
Nicholas: Give me a second and we’ll come back to that.
Pam: In just that idea that, like you said, to get your attention, we’re doing something different here, this is the bad guy, or there’s some kind of disharmony that we’re expressing or something, something out of the ordinary …
Nicholas: OK, can I give you one?
Pam: Sure.
Nicholas: So you think about Gerard Manley Hopkins, I’ll return to him and I cannot recommend him enough – if you were trapped on a desert island with only one complete collection of poetry it would have to be Gerard Manley Hopkins, especially if you’re a Believer, it helps. If you’re not a Believer it’s OK too, you’ll really like him. He was a Jesuit priest, actually. Just a brilliant guy, lived a very short life, but wrote some pretty world changing stuff and in a way ushered in what we know as modern poetry, and he died in 1895, so he has this poem talking about how fleeting beauty is, nothing can keep beauty at all. He ends the first part which is called the leaden echo with this very despairing (and you’ll see in a minute what I’m talking about) but the second part of the poem that butts up against it is called the golden echo and it begins to take a more hopeful tone. He says, ‘be beginning; since, no, nothing can be done to keep at bay age, and age’s evils, hoar hair, ruck and wrinkle, drooping, dying, death’s worst, tombs and worms and tumbling to decay;’ and then he goes on, he says, ‘so be beginning, to despair, to despair, despair, despair, despair, despair, Spare! There is one, here I have one (Hush there!); only not within seeing of the sun,’ and so what he does in that little moment there, where he says, ‘despair, despair, despair, despair, spare!’ something happens in our ear hopefully when we hear that as we train our ears to hear, we’re like, “Whoa” something’s happening, he missed something or something changed on me. So he goes from the word despair to spare (which means wait, stop, don’t despair for just a minute). Just the way he does that and that was the first thing that triggered, that really got my attention in that poem when I first heard it that just really fascinated me. It made me want to really immerse myself in that poem too.
Pam: And so you don’t even have to be aware of where the stresses and unstressed syllables are in there to know that he’s done something different to get your attention?
Nicholas: And then when they get your attention that’s the point at which maybe you can say, ‘Why did he do that? Is he having a bad day?’ No! He wasn’t having a bad day; they didn’t publish whatever came off their pen back in those days like we do now. It’s good and they did it for a reason. If you’re reading good poets then you dig deeper. That’s why I say we start with the wonder. We start with delight. And if we stop there, we may be OK. There’s a danger in that of course if you have someone with a very, very different world and life view than you who’s delighting you and you don’t stop to think about why, that could be dangerous. But there were a lot of shows on TV that would delight my son and I’m sure they would but I don’t want him to watch them because there’s something behind them, too, that’s insidious, that’s bad for him. Or junk food, a lot of us delight in junk food so not everything that delights us is good, but let’s that be the starting place to where we can say, ‘Let me find out it’s beautiful, is it true? Does it ring true? There is a message behind what he’s saying.’ And there are exceptions. Is there a message behind Jabberwocky? Somewhat, yes, and I think that’s a good one. It’s just a little quest- someone going out to find some kind of monster that apparently is terrorizing folks. If that’s as far as you get in the message of it then you’re probably doing pretty well. Train your ear to hear what’s going on and then again, let that be the thing that drives you to a deeper inquiry. And I believe your delight will increase than decrease at that point, the more you learn and study up on that poem.
Pam: And I like what you say there- to train your ear. So you’re not saying open up all of these books about how to study poetry and read through them and figure out all of these different questions you need to ask and methods you need to use for studying poetry. You’re simply saying train your ear. Read and enjoy poem after poem after poem, and after a while you’re going to start hearing these things and picking up on them without having to slog through the big poetry for dummies or how to read poetry or anything like that.
Nicholas: That’s exactly what I’m saying. And in fact, I’m saying if you want to NOT love poetry then open up the big textbook first. It’s almost tried and true, it’s unlikely that your return on that other thing is going to be very low than versus – and again, poetry is so easy to compare to other sensory things that we do- eating, or listening to music, or looking at nature or creation. There’s so much poetry and it’s just noticing what’s out there. And so, I think the training of the ear. I have a friend who’s a bird watcher, and he came to visit and we went out of his place one morning and we were out of the truck for, it was under a minute, and he said, ‘oh we’re going to hear some nut hatches today, and there’s a heron out here, and I’m really looking forward to seeing… we may even see a kingfisher, and he listed 10 or 12 different birds that we were going to see later, because he had a trained ear, he knew what he was looking for. I guarantee that began because birds delighted him at some point and then he started going in and going deeper. He did not just download an app with a bunch of bird songs on it and memorize all those things so that maybe one day he could make good use of it and impress his friend (which he did!) but I think the same thing here, just go to the tried and true – the good poets. It’s not hard to figure out who those guys are and immerse yourself in them and then you’ll learn what good music sounds like, you’ll learn what a good poem sounds like. Or you’ll eat at fine restaurants and know what good food tastes like and McDonald’s won’t be able to lie to you anymore because you’ll say this isn’t good (maybe it’s good at what it is- the dollar menu but it’s not good, it’s passable). So that training is so important.
Pam: Help me out a little bit. Now, you’ve given me one anthology and that was A Child’s Anthology of Poetry. Do you have any others to recommend- any great poems, poets, or anthologies that we could list for our listeners?
Nicholas: Yes, I could name a few. For our audience one of the great anthologies is, it’s pretty big (probably a couple of hundred poems in there) that’s the Child’s Anthology, and I’ve already recommended the Road on the Other Side which is both instructional and it has a great collection of poems all the way through it, so that’s something else I would definitely recommend. If you’re trying to get students (children) into poetry this has got to be one that you put in your arsenal. Luci Shaw, who I mentioned earlier, she was a good friend of Madeleine L’Engel who wrote, A Swiftly Tilting Planet. She wrote another one but I’m blanking on it right now.
Pam: Me too. I know I should know it.
Nicholas: Anyway, Luci Shaw is a friend of hers and Luci Shaw, I guess still is teaching up at Regent College up in Vancouver, she’s a poet herself but was also an editor for a collection of poems called, A Widening Light and the subtitle on that is Poems of the Incarnation. I find I pick this up usually around Christmas and Easter time and just find some really great poets written some really great stuff written around the person of Christ, from birth to death. I’d recommend Gerard Manley Hopkins, The Complete Works, that’d be a good place to start, or anything by Hopkins would also be fine. Then Billy Collins, a good way to start with Billy Collins is Sailing Alone Around the Room which mostly a collection of stuff from previous works and then a few new poems by Billy Collins and so that’s great. I’m trying to think of what else I may have had good luck with. Those should all get you off on a good start. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend a Norton Anthology necessarily. It’s got good poems but that’s usually written for a more academic audience so they’re picking “important” poems that are particular favorable in academia. They wouldn’t be my first pick, to get a Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry or Norton Anthology of Black Poetry or things like that. So, those are a few suggestions.
Pam: Well, Nicholas, thank you so much for joining us here today and talking to us a little more about how we can enjoy poetry without fear, without being intimidated by it.
Nicholas: It’s been a pleasure. Relax and enjoy some good poems.
Pam: Thank you.
For our Basket Bonus this week we have a fun cheat sheet of poetry terms for you. So, like Nicholas said in the podcast, you definitely want to start your study of poetry with wonder and focusing on the poems that you enjoy and simply enjoying those poems, but when you’re ready to take it a few steps further we have a downloadable cheat sheet for you of some of the poetry terms that Nicholas and I chatted about in the podcast and a little definition for each one, so you can print this out, put it in your Morning Time binder and have it there to refer to when you’re ready to ask your kids some more questions about poetry. You can find this at the Show Notes for this episode at EDSnapshots.com/YMB8. And those Show Notes are a great place to find links to all of the resources, books, and other things that Nicholas and I chatted about today on the podcast, so head on over there and check those out for all of the information that you need. And if you are one of the wonderful people who have left a rating or review in iTunes for Your Morning Basket I just want to say thank you so much, I really appreciate you doing that. If you would like to leave a rating or review you can find out how to do that on the Show Notes as well. So, EDSnapshots.com/YMB8, and I’ll see you guys again in a couple of weeks with another great podcast. And until then, keep enjoying Truth, Goodness, and Beauty with your children every single day.

Key Ideas about Poetry

Poetry is part of being human.

Poetry is something to be experienced and enjoyed, not just mastered.

“What do you think it means?” is not a bad question, but it is not the first question you should ask about a poem.

Train your ear to delight in poetry by reading beautiful poems, especially those with truth behind them. Just keep reading.

Find what you want to hear:

  • [2:00] the importance of poetry; poetry in Scripture; the innate desire to express experiences and emotions through song, poetry, and analogy
  • [3:58] We don’t necessarily have to understand poetry to first enjoy it.
  • [6:02] using poems you like to branch out to other poems
  • [7:19] finding excellent poetry that resonates with children but is not childish
  • [9:40] poetry recommendations for beginners
  • [11:40] ways to enjoy poetry together as a family
  • [14:06] the role of memorization in enjoying poetry
  • [15:41] the importance of first finding poems that resonate with you
  • [17:38] questions to ask about poems
  • [19:39] literary devices to look for in poetry
  • [32:31] starting with wonder and delight; training the ear to love beautiful poems
  • [36:26] more recommendation of great poets, poems, and collections about art
  • [26:49] encouragement for mothers intimidated by teaching art

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Thanks for your reviews

  • Always a favorite!
    by Lizzie O' from United States

    Pam continues to do an amazing job with this podcast. She is a wonderful host, never hurried, asks great questions and really lets her guest share his/her experience fully. The variety of experience & wisdom here is fruit for the homeschooling community at large. I’ve been listening from day one and this podcast continues to be a top favorite. Thank you Pam!

  • Morning time will change your life
    by RachBoz from United States

    I’ve listened to YMB and Pam off and on for years, and she literally changed my life 7 years ago when I was just starting to homeschool. I’m so thankful for her ministry and encouragement to homeschool moms of all ages! I highly recommend doing morning time!

  • Life Affirming
    by Logandinco66 from United States

    This podcast is amazing and has helped me so much as recovering perfectionist homeschooling mama! Pam gives so much great insight into so many aspects of life and focusing on homeschooling.

  • Life giving!
    by lapatita5 from United States

    This podcast has been so great. It’s so practical and encouraging without being overly preachy or narrow. It gives ideas in a take-what-fits kind of way. I have used many of the recommended resources and ideas mentioned and been inspired by many others. Even the episodes that I found less relevant to me specifically, often had tidbits that I could use. Pam’s podcasts, books, and resources have been a godsend to me in my beginning years of homeschooling, helping me discover my own way to teach my kids in a way that prioritizes what is most important to us.

  • You've made my school year!
    by Lizzie O' from United States

    Pam, My children are almost 11 and 13 and I never sent this review in! I found it sitting here. This is testimony that I am still so blessed by this podcast years later. So here it is: I wrote you an email when I first felt it placed on my heart to homeschool my now 6

  • Love the show!
    by Startup Travis from United States

    Love your content and the guests you have visiting the show! I am a huge believer in using the morning hours well. Thank you for your direction and products!

  • Enjoy the podcast & some thoughts…
    by rufocused from United States

    I enjoy listening to tips on starting and using morning time as I am just starting it this year. We have kind of done it in the past, but when you only have one child you tend to just call it bible, story time, etc… but now that my second one is old enough to join we’re going to have more of a true morning time. I did notice Pam mentioned CNN ten in one episode. CNN can be pretty liberal biased in the main news, I’m not sure if they curb that in the “CNN ten”, but thought I would mention the Daily Wire, which is from a conservative viewpoint (and often covers indoctrination in public schools) and could be fun to compare and contrast with CNN. Our family also recently discovered Daily Citizen from Focus on the Family which has a very Christian perspective, which has been refreshing as news can be so depressing sometimes! Just thought I’d throw that out there… but really do appreciate the perspectives and insights of these women who have been doing this for awhile!

  • Very helpful and pleasant to listen to.
    by Heather homeschooler from United States

    I have listened to many episodes of this podcast and have highly recommended it to others. It has been a wonderful source of inspiration and encouragement. Pam has a great voice and presence and I love that she does not interrupt or talk over her guests. Thank you for your hard work!

  • Always insightful!!
    by method_money from Canada

    Pam always has great great guests who bring great insights and encouragement! I so appreciate her down to earth style and ability to ask great questions! Keep up the great work!!

  • A wildly encouraging and equipping podcast for homeschool families.
    by Eryn Lynum from United States

    As a homeshool mama of four (Ages 2-9), Pam's podcast has been an increidble encouragement to me. Not only that, but I have discovered so many helpful resources for focusing on what is lovely and true during our homeschool days. I love that it is not overwhelming in nature, but instead a gentle help for moving forward one day at a time in our homeschooling adventure.

  • Best podcast for homeschooling/variety of topics
    by Bethetal from United States

    I love this podcast for so many reasons. (1) Pam is friendly, funny, humble and kind (2) She covers a multitude of topics (one at a time)- I have learned about nature notebooks, classical music study, narration, living books, Shakespeare and so much more. Whenever I have a question about a new (to me)HS term or practice, I come here to listen to Pam interview someone about it. Her interviewees have all been all-in on their respective areas of interest/expertise and I love the way she interviews/asks questions to really let the guests shine as they speak. I have changed the structure of my homeschool, found books for my kids and me, purchased materials, and found inspiration due to this podcast and I can’t recommend it enough! This podcast has shaped my homeschool in so many positive ways, most of which I probably can’t even articulate yet, as the changes have been done inside of me. Thanks, Pam!

  • Great!!!
    by Eloblah from United States

    I love the variety of things that are talked about on this show for homeschooling - things that I would never even think about including or doing - with easy ways to do them. Very much recommend this podcast

  • New home schooling mom
    by A prit from United States

    I am listening to the past episodes and loving it. This podcast has helped me develop my own homeschool. So many ideas!! I love morning time so much, we do a nightly family time so my husband and public school attending son. We do all the things instead of watching tv, playing ps4, and YouTube. My kids hang around me every evening asking if we are doing family time. I can tell they love it but don’t want to admit it.

  • Morning Time Magic!
    by DrewSteadman from United States

    I am so excited Pam is back to her morning time focus for 2020. Our homeschool has been shaped by the rich ideas and practical wisdom shared here.

  • Yay! Morning time is back!
    by Homeschooler in Germany from United States

    I was so happy and excited to learn that Pam is shifting her focus back to Morning Time for 2020! I’ve missed the morning time exclusive podcast and can’t wait to hear her back in my earbuds.

  • So excited for 2020!
    by JCrutchf from United States

    I absolutely LOVE this podcast and was so disappointed when I realized you were not actively producing it! I’m NOW relieved to know there is a whole year of episodes ahead! I’m beginning my homeschool journey with 4 little ones very close in age and my style falls somewhere in the Classical and Charlotte Mason. I found your podcast by chance via Instagram recommendation as I was doing research on “morning menus.” Your content is beautifully philosophical but at a level most parents will be able to grasp and appreciate. Filled with truth, beauty, and goodness! Your episodes fill me up and leave me feeling inspired personally and in regards to my children’s education. Everything is so good! Please don’t stop producing ever again! I’ll be grateful forever!

  • So glad Your Morning is back!!!
    by alissajohn2020 from United States

    So glad to have the morning basket podcast back! Thank you for bringing it back!!

  • So good I ran out of gas.
    by JoanieHummel from United States

    This podcast is awesome! It was recommended to me a few years ago by a very wise and experienced homeschool mom but I didn’t start listening until I saw it come up a few more times on Facebook, recommended in various groups (in particular, episode number 41). I wish I had picked it up years ago! So much great information, I’m learning so much! Be careful though, I was so interested listening to this podcast that I didn’t notice how low my gas tank was getting! I ran out of gas and as I write this review I’m stranded on the side of the road waiting for a friend to come rescue me! Happy listening!

  • Knowledge Goldmine
    by A.J. Edwards from United States

    I’ve just been eating up every episode of this brilliant podcast over the past few months. The guests are stellar and Pam’s interview style is wonderful. She gets each guest to the meat and potatoes of their topic but it’s anything but a plain meal. This is a feast for the homeschool mom’s mind. I know I’ll be revisiting many of my favorite episodes again and again. Feeling so inspired by each guest!

  • Myths and fairytale truths for homeschoolers
    by Allierhn from United States

    Mind blown! I’m listening to the myth podcast and it’s absolutely perfect. It is answering so many questions I’ve struggled with my whole life. It helps me to view our curriculum and informs my teaching so much more.

  • Super Helpful!
    by Jennlee C from United States

    I can’t speak highly enough about this podcast. It has been a huge inspiration and a practical help to my homeschool! Thank you so much Pam Barnhill and everyone else who contributes to this. It has been an amazing blessing to me and my children… And possibly generations to come!

  • Practical Inspiration
    by Mamato3activeboys from Australia

    Not only am I inspired by each episode of this podcast but I have actually put so many of the ideas into practice in our own morning time. Such a huge help as I seek to inspire my non-stop boys to truth, goodness and beauty. We are now memorising poetry as they jump on the trampoline and they love Shakespeare. That's a parenting win in my book!

  • So many great ideas!
    by Parent 98765 from Malaysia

    Thank you, Pam! I’m now bursting with inspiration and can’t wait to start our 2019 school year with a strong morning time routine.

  • Joy
    by Ancon76 from United States

    My heart is enriched and I can’t wait to learn more.

  • Just what I was looking for!
    by Joey5176 from United States

    I was looking for morning basket ideas—simple ones. These podcasts are giving me a picture of a good morning basket.

  • Wow!! What amazing nuggets of knowledge
    by HeRo84 from United States

    This is truly life changing information for me as a homeschool mother. Thank you Pam for this amazing series.

  • Love it!
    by s chenvmv from United States

    I love all of Pam’s podcast but this one is prob my favorite. I love to listen to all her guest and see the different ways a morning time can be done

  • Excellent
    by W.A., R.A. Hall from United States

    Love this!

  • Love, love, love this show
    by SarahPMiller from United States

    And I'm not even a homeschooling mother! But I've created a Morning Time for my children nonetheless, and I wouldn't have been inspired to do it -- nor could I have done it -- without this podcast. It's my favorite, and I get something out of every single episode.

  • Wonderful resource!
    by honebubble from United States

    This podcast has changed what I thought I could offer my children, my family and myself... I never would have believed that it would be possible to live a life as so many people actually do. Thank you for these tools and for what you do to help women, teachers, moms and all those on this path. You are amazing and I just can’t get enough, each episode teaches me so much!! Thank you again!

  • A wonderful podcast!
    by NoName2018 from Canada

    Great ideas and interesting guests - thanks Pam!!

  • Insightful, Inspiring, Life-Giving Podcast
    by Mackenziechester from United States

    I love this podcast. It has turned cleaning my kitchen into a really valuable part of my day. There are great tips here for gathering your family together and finding ways to share the things you are passionate about but can never quite find the time to fit in to a typical school day. So many ideas, so many varied topics. Great, inspiring guests. Life-changing podcast. Thanks so much for sharing these ideas!

  • Such great choices of guests
    by andinic from United Kingdom

    This podcast is inspirational for your homeschool plans. Pam Barnhill has a delightful interviewing style and her guests share their insights and enthusiasm for their topics. Among my favourites are the episodes with Cindy Rollins, and Angelina Stanford. Don’t miss this encouraging podcast!

  • Great
    by WifeyKayla from United States

    Some great interviews and very helpful for figuring out the flow of our mornings.

  • Interesting ideas
    by Lisa1932 from Canada

    Just started this podcast. There are some very interesting ideas here on how to create quality time with your children, learning together and focusing on the things that are most important in life. Great hearing other moms' stories too.

  • WARNING: This podcast will revolutionize your homeschool!
    by JoysTeacher from United States

    Honestly, I started listening to this podcast because I had run out of other homeschool podcasts to listen. I really didn't think we needed a morning time! I homeschool one teen daughter and I thought the concept was too "baby" for us. WOW! I was completely wrong!! We needed a morning time, and it has changed the climate and the productivity of our homeschool. The habit was so important to us, we still do morning time when we are one break. (And neither of us is a "morning" person). Pam is an talented interviewer and will not waste your time (her time is precious, too)!

  • Excellent!
    by Jodylleigh from United States

    I'm really enjoying the ideas and tips Pam bring up in this podcast!

  • Truly an inspiration!
    by Soaring2him from United States

    I have started a morning basket just because of listening to this podcast. Pam sold me on the beauty of having a morning basket. I love all of the ideas I've gleaned from listening and I've implemented many of the ideas I have heard about through this podcast. It's really helped simplify some things in our homeschool day!

  • Easy to listen too, incredibly practical
    by HarrisFamily0323 from United States

    I really enjoy Your Morning Basket. Pam is a great host and I have taken away many practical ideas and had many unrealistic expectations corrected. I don't listen to all the episodes, but the ones I've thought were pertinent to my needs and have been able to apply something helpful to our homeschool. Thanks Pam!

  • So helpful for this new homeschooling mom
    by klund08 from United States

    I'm planning our first homeschool year and have really enjoyed this podcast! The interviews are great and I enjoy hearing from different homeschooling moms and how things work in their family. I'm excited to start Morning Time with my kids!

  • You've made my school year!
    by Lizzie O' from United States

    Pam, I wrote you an email when I first felt it placed on my heart to homeschool my now 6 & 8 year old children and you responded with a warm response. I then began to listen to every podcast you have (all 3!) and I have been so very inspired and encouraged in so many ways that it would take up too much time here to explain it all. This Morning Basket podcast is really a light for me and my children as not only are they the recipients of our mornings of gathering but so am I. I have learned so much from your guests (and you!) and have been able to take tips/ideas to add to what my own mornings look like. We truly have experienced Truth, Goodness and Beauty. God certainly has chosen you for this type of work and serving to others. Thank you for what you do!

  • Thanks Pam!
    by BraveMomma from United States

    So many great ideas every single week! Thanks!

  • Truth, goodness, and beauty
    by I'm Sonny from United States

    Need I say more? I am deeply grateful for this profound and practical resource as we seek to surround our children in the truth, in goodness, and in things beautiful. I leave feeling encouraged, refreshed, determined and equipped.

  • Very encouraging
    by .....hk..... from United States

    So helpful with recommendations for new things to do in morning time.

  • A wonderful podcast full of useful tips!
    by Klarnold79 from United States

    I have listened to almost every episode over the last few months on my morning runs and they have made me look forward to running! I have learned so much and have been inspired to add truth, goodness and beauty to our homeschool days. Thank you so much!!

  • Wow! Talk about a solid series!
    by KastenbauerFamily from United States

    Each episode is fabulous alone, and when you've been listening for a while, they all continue to be full of new information!

  • Hope for the weary
    by MomToTheMasses from United States

    I enjoy the variety of topics covered as well as Pam's cheerful personality. Thank you for being a cup of cold water for so many homeschool mamas.

  • Great guests and host
    by My Life as a Rinnagade from United States

    I love the people Pam has on and all the great morning time tips! Thanks for a wonderful show :).

  • Mamma of Five
    by Mamma of Five from United States

    The ideas, information and encouragment that Pam shares through the different guests and talking about the purpose and practice of Your Morning Basket has been a huge blessing to our family. Helped me to practically see how to bring truth, beauty, and goodness to our day.

  • Great Homeschool Resource
    by KS Becky R from United States

    I have just started listening and am gaining so much knowledge and practical advice. I can't wait to keep listening to more.

  • Really great!
    by BeeGerW from United States

    I love hearing all these ideas!

  • californiafamily
    by californiafamily from United States

    I absolutely love Your Morning Basket podcasts. Pam interviews excellent people & so far, I've incorporated information from each podcast & have purchased many items that the interviewee's suggest. I think all families could benefit from this even if they don't homeschool! Thank you so much!

  • Love Pam's podcasts
    by Flourishing Mama from United States

    There are many homeschool related podcasts that I enjoy, both for their content and the host. But I must say that Pam Barnhill's podcasts are top-notch for the following reasons: 1) the content is both relevant AND in-depth, 2) she NEVER interrupts the guest speakers with incessant (annoying) "uh huhs," "ummms," and such, 3) she provides multiple lists and links to supplemental materials that are really useful and interesting, and 4) she shares forms she's created even though she could make you pay for them. She has a gift for tapping in to the issues homeschool moms are REALLY dealing with. Thanks Pam. Keep up the good work!

  • First Things First
    by Lukenoah from United States

    Every episode inspires me to start my day bringing my children the true the good and the beautiful through our family time.

  • So helpful!
    by jofcrich from Australia

    Every time I see that I have a new podcast from Pam Barnhill I know it's going to be good. Every one I have listened to (which is all of them!) have helped, inspired and encouraged me in some way or another. Pam is so good at summarising what her interviewee has just spoken about; a great knack which helps me distill the main ideas from all that good conversation. I really like that she always has links to whatever is discussed so that I can go back to it in the future and find what I need.

  • Great resource
    by Ejs0928 from United States

    Such a help for a new homeschooler. Highly recommend that you check it out if you'd like to learn more about starting your day with morning time.

  • Amazing!
    by CDefnall from United States

    This podcast is filled with great information to help you take full advantage of morning time or all together time in your homeschool. It also has great tips for extending your child education whether they are in public or private school as well. We all want to aid our kids in thier success and no matter if you are a homeschool parent or a public/private school teacher this podcast will enlighten you and provide valuable information you to to better help your students.

  • Inspiring and enlightening
    by spycej from United States

    One of my favorite podcasts and I love and subscribe to all of Pam's podcasts. Thank you for the fabulous interviews.

  • Must-Listen for Homeschooling Moms
    by DaffodilSocks from United States

    This podcast has revolutionized how I homeschool my young children. A must-listen.

  • One of my favorites
    by FaithAZ from United States

    Love Pam and all of her podcasts - can't wait for new episodes!

  • Great Ideas
    by Hiphooray from United States

    Just found this podcast and have been listening to them over the summer break. Pam is a great host and has fun guests and together they bring a lot of inspiration to the concept of morning time in homeschool. Thanks for the great resource!!

  • TaraVos
    by TaraVos from United States

    I would not be exaggerating if I said that I have learned so much from this practical, encouraging podcast that has changed our homeschool. Thank you Pam!

  • Lots of useful information
    by Kristizy from United States

    This podcast does a great job finding guests who give a ton of practical help to make morning time enjoyable and educational for everyone. I always feel reenergized after listening to any of Pam Barnhill's podcasts.

  • by Momo35556 from United States

    I love this podcast! So helpful and encouraging.

  • Lovely & Inspiring
    by kashley75 from United States

    Thank you so much for this podcast!

  • Such a wealth of information!
    by Jeaine6 from United States

    There is so much wonderful information to be found in these podcasts. I can go about my daily chores and fill my homeschool mom cup simultaneously! They allow me to look at areas of our hs that need improvement or just need new life and feel encouraged while I'm listening. Thank you!!

  • Encouraging & inspiring
    by God's Ranch Hand from United States

    So thankful for this podcast! I look forward to listening to each episode when it comes out.

  • Homeschool Professional Development!
    by Jo.W.17 from Canada

    As a new-ish homeschooling mama, I've found this podcast super encouraging and helpful. I would highly recommend it!

  • So Helpful!
    by KGMom2Four from United States

    I love the practical application that comes from this podcast! Thanks!

  • A Lovely Show!
    by Webseitler from United States

    This podcast has become my most favorite podcast on the subject of homeschooling. The topics discussed often go right to the heart of why I'm doing what I'm doing in our home--and God has really used the great advice shared in this show to help me be a more confident (and calmer!) teacher. Thank you, Pam, for creating such a great program! Already looking forward to next season.

  • Awesome homeschooling resource!
    by Liddleladie81 from United States

    This podcast has absolutely changed my perspective on homeschooling, in a great way! All of the guests have been wonderful and I leave each episode feeling both sad that it is already over, and encouraged and excited to figure out how I can use what I’ve learned! It has a great flow to it, very light but meaningful, informative, encouraging….I could go on and on! Absolutely LOVE this podcast! Thanks to all involved!

  • Great hosts!
    by Homeschool_chat from United States

    I always look forward to this podcast!

  • Practical, helpful & concise tips
    by sproutnchic from United States

    This podcast continues to help. I appreciate the Pam Barnhill's professional, organized, yet warm interviewing style of some well-picked guests.

  • So refreshing and helpful
    by a. borealis from United States

    I've really appreciated the depth and breadth of Pam's look into Morning Time and also the practical ideas and tools to make it work. It is so inspiring! It helps me think through my own Circle Time, realizing what an opporunity I have. There are so many great ideas for additions and tweaking my approach. I am loving it.

  • Awesome!
    by Apples20091 from United States

    This podcast has been so helpful and packed full of practical ideas to use with my children!! Some of the episodes I have listened to more than once!!

  • Encouraging and Motivating!
    by Cat11223 from United States

    Pam makes this morning time concept so attainable! She gives great ideas but simple ways to begin. These tips and recommendations reach far beyond just morning time and are benefiting our entire homeschool and family life!

  • So many ideas!
    by Speterson781 from United States

    This podcast is full of amazing ideas to grab my kids attention first thing in the morning. I love listening to Pam and her guests. Pam asks such great questions of her guests!

  • A Favorite for Homeschool Encouragement!
    by JamesDWitmer from United States

    I have been so encouraged by Pam's podcasts on Morning Time. She walks you through many of the wonderful activities that you can choose to include in your homeschooling, and also the details about how to do it! It has truly been a blessing. Thanks Pam!

  • Perfect for the Homeschool Mom
    by JoshJamie from United States

    I just stumbled upon the "Your Morning Basket" podcast this weekend. I have already listened to 2 episodes, and they are wonderful - perfect for the homeschool mom. I am going to share this on my Periscope channel tomorrow. So great!! Jamie @OurLittleSchoolhouse.

  • SongsofJubilee
    by SongsofJubilee from United States

    I love the idea of a morning basket, and this podcast has helped me learn a lot about the different ways it can look! I love all the different subjects she discusses within it!

  • Love it!
    by Ekrasovec7 from United States

    This podcast has been such a blessing to me! Informational and insightful, it opens a window into how other families incorporate morning time into their day, as well as what they fill it with. This has completely changed the rhythm and content of our days for the better. Our whole family has fallen in love with morning time! Thank you!!

  • So encouraging!
    by A Merry Heart from United States

    I absolutely love this podcast! It has been so encouraging as I begin to implement Morning Time with my 5 girls. I have listened to them all & can't wait for more!

  • This podcast has changed our homeschool
    by Momof4athome from United States

    Pam has relieved some of the pressure to "get it all in". We now begin our day with the good true and beautiful in an almost effortless way and are all enjoying our time together before the "serious" subjects! Yay for the morning basket! Her guests are all lovely people you would want to have over for tea. I love this podcast.

  • Refreshing
    by Bless-Us-3 from Canada

    I am loving this podcast. I just stumbled across it after hearing the recommendation over at Read Aloud Revival. I have been wanting to start 'Morning Time' for a year now so this is giving me direction and so many wonderful and helpful tips and suggestions. I love Pam's enthusiasm and personality.

  • So helpful and inspiring!
    by KSR1 from United States

    I was lucky enough to find YMB and Pam’s other podcast, Homeschool Snapshots, when I started my first year of homeschool this year. These 2 podcasts have been SO helpful to me with getting ideas for morning time and the rest of our homeschool day. I am very grateful for the excellent work Pam has done on both of these podcasts, and I hope they continue for many more years!

  • Inspiring
    by Jaranda98 from United States

    This podcast was inspiring and encouraging. It was a good blend of practical and theoretical and exactly what this tired homeschool mom needed to hear today to rejuvenate.

  • An inspiring and encouraging podcast
    by Kellibird1111 from United States

    Very well done! I really enjoyed listening! Very practical and informative.

  • Honey for the Homeschooling Heart
    by SuperNOVAmom from United States

    Pam lays out a feast of homeschooling topics that are relevant, helpful, and validating. The show is well organized and her interviews are clearly well thought out. In addition, Ms. Barnhill's relaxed and warm personality puts one at ease. It's like going to your favorite homeschool conference without leaving home!

  • I love this podcast, great content!
    by Sara V from United States

    These podcasts helped transform our homeschooling!

  • Great parenting resource
    by sullivanjessicak from United States

    I absolutely love this podcast. The show is well organized with great guests and helpful information.

  • Thank you!
    by Nasiatel from United States

    I'm so happy that I found your podcast, it has truly blessed our homeschool life!

  • Wonderful help in my homeschool
    by BT and Jessica from United States

    This is a great resource for all homeschoolers (and I would say any educator). I am challenged to make sure I am giving my children truth, beauty and virtue through the morning ritual of our morning time. I’ve learned of new books to share with my children, how to incorporate fine arts, good habits for our day… I could go on and on. Pam asks great questions and has wonderful guests.

  • Top Notch
    by Wvshaddox from United States

    Excellent inspiration and tips for homeschoolers! I have learned so much from this podcast.

  • Great Morning Time tips!
    by redhedcatie from United States

    I have gotten SO many practical tips from this podcast! A must listen for homeschoolers!

  • So Inspiring!
    by Frau Linds from United States

    Another home-run podcast! Pam has a knack for inspiring great things in your homeschool! And the wonderful thing is she doesn't leave you with the "lofty ideal," but offers practical tips, aids, etc. all while encouraging you the whole way. Each interview is professionally done and such a joy to listen to! Thanks, Pam, for putting your heart into this! 🙂

  • Wonderful!
    by Kellybireta from United States

    Like having a cup of coffee with a friend. So helpful and informative.

  • Excellent practical advise!
    by Foxycook from United States

    Really enjoying this so far!

  • Very encouraging!
    by WMGardener from United States

    This was been a great podcast about Morning Time! How encouraging and informative to hear from other homeschool moms who are in the midst of it all!

  • A great resource!
    by gejake from United States

    Very inspiring and informative as I begin my homeschooling journey

  • Love This Podcast
    by Earthmuffins from United States

    I have finally had opportunity to listen to this podcast and regret not doing it sooner!!! Very informative and encouraging.

  • Full of Goodness, Truth and Beauty
    by CJMance from United States

    This is such an inspiration to get the beautiful ritual of morning time established. Thank you Pam!

  • Great Podcast!
    by Greggtrisha from United States

    I'm so excited about this podcast! My kids range from ages 4 - 11, and I've been needing to reduce my workload a bit. I'm using the fantastic things I'm learning here to combine all my kids together for read-alouds, Bible time, memorization, and some other fun things. Thanks so much, Pam! I love your other podcast as well!

  • Treasure
    by TasmanianBec from Australia

    I am so glad I found this podcast. Morning Basket / Circle Time / Morning Time - lots of interviews with families who make this part of their day a treasure for years to come. Just getting started homeschooling, and this is going to help shape our days. Thanks Pam.

  • Jeannie in Ohio
    by Jeannie in Ohio from United States

    Loving learning about how so many families are using Morning Time in their homes!

  • Wonderful ideas for creating your best morning time.
    by Flowerpetal2 from Australia

    The ideas presented here are wonderful, it's great to hear how different families put together their morning time and how we can all make this a rich but simple time of beauty in our schooling days.

  • Excellent Host
    by meghanlou from United States

    Pam Barnhill is a truly excellent host and producer of podcasts. They are a pleasure to listen to, full of applicable and inspirational content. Unlike other podcasts in this genre, which are produced at home, Pam's podcasts never make me cringe because of awkward pauses or bad sound quality. Another of Pam's strengths is her ability to reflectively listen and summarize what she's heard from her guests in a way that wraps up the different segments of her interviews. Well done, Pam!

  • Helpful and fun!
    by HornGal88 from United States

    We’re just starting out with morning time and this podcast has been an invaluable source of inspiration and ideas. Keep up the good work!

  • LOVE IT!
    by sassercj from United States

    I’m always counting down the days until the next podcast…one of the best homeschooling podcasts out there!

  • Among the Best I’ve Heard
    by More Like Mary from United States

    I’m a bit of a podcast junkie so when I say that this is among the best, that’s really a compliment! Pam is an excellent interviewer. She re-states main ideas and summarizes information in a way that is helpful and not condescending. She asked poignant questions and stays on topic. Her guests are phenomenal and I’ve learned so much from each episode. So far, this podcast is “big picture” homeschooling talk with lots of tips for implementing lofty ideals into daily life. The perfect combination. I will be looking forward to many more of these!

  • Gave me the tools I needed!
    by Momofmany:) from United States

    This podcast is amazing. (I am spoiled now; the quality alone is superb!) I have listened to the four current episodes several times and now understand "morning time" in a way I never have before-- in particular, the schole part. I've longed for restful learning for ten years, and now I have tools to actually do it. Our whole family has benefitted so much. Thank you, Pam!!

  • What’s important
    by sncstraub from United States

    Pam Barnhill’s new podcast on Morning Time is a great help to those of us who are homeschooling. I’ve only listened to the first episode so far, but it’s wonderfully encouraging to hear Cindy Rollins’ talking through her own experiences with Morning Time. I’m looking forward to listening to more episodes with others who are focusing their schools on the important things - the true, good, and beautiful.

  • New listener and hooked!
    by Bytesofmemory from United States

    I just started listening to the first podcast this morning and I am completely hooked on this podcast. I took the advice in the first podcast and just started with morning time. Instead of trying to “give birth to an adult” morning time I just started doing something and will add things in as this becomes a habit. Thanks for the wonderful tool!! I am now off to listen to episode 2!!

  • Great!
    by Wvshaddox from United States

    Encouragement for homeschool.

  • A Gift to the Homeschool Community
    by HGPII from United States

    This podcast is so well done, informative, and just what the homeschooling moms needs. It includes achievable, sound suggestions as well as an abundant dose of inspiration. I can’t wait to revamp my Morning Time and watch the results!

  • Encouraging and informative!
    by sarahdempsen from United States

    I have enjoyed Your Morning Basket from its first episode! I am a second generation homeschooler and just started our own family's homeschooling journey. Thanks to YMB, I implemented our "circle time" starting our second week of school and it has been such a blessing to me already even its very simple form of prayer, Psalm, Mother Goose, and then read-aloud time with my kindergartner. My 2 and 4 year olds also love it and it encourages me to include things in our day that might get left out, like nursery rhymes and simple children's songs! Thanks to Pam and YMB I feel like I am starting out with a great centering tool and routine that can be expanded and adapted as we grow!

  • A great resource!
    by Bookgirl630 from United States

    Your Morning Basket Podcast is a great resource for to help implement morning time into your homeschool day. I have enjoyed every episode so far.

  • Thank you for wonderful bonus at the end!
    by Caj312 from United States

    I just discovered this show and listened to the first 4 episodes. All were inspiring and I loved the useful links at the end of the show that help me improve my homeschool days! Well done and I look forward to the next episode.

  • One of my VERY favorites
    by Dianna @ The Kennedy Adventure from United States

    I’m a bit of a podcast junkie, but YMB ranks among my very, very favorites. If you’re a homeschooling mother, or a mom who wants to connect with your children and show them truth, goodness and beauty, this is a must listen. Kudos, Pam, on a another amazing podcast series.

  • Timely
    by AggieRudy3 from United States

    I’ve been trying to figure out morning time on my own, but Pam with this podcast has figuratively sat down with me and explained how to get things going. I’m so glad to have this resource at the beginning of my family's homeschool journey! The Basket Bonuses have also been so helpful.

  • Thanks!
    by heyh2 from United States

    Thanks for the new podcast. Loving it!

  • Wonderful podcast with practical advice
    by Victorzvaliant from United States

    Thank you Pam for a great podcast, I am really enjoying it. I always come away inspired and with ideas I can use!

  • Changed our Homeschool Morning routine
    by HeatherinSC from United States

    I have been listening to the Your Morning Basket podcasts recently and Pam's blog writings about creating morning time traditions with your children and I feel like it has made a huge positive difference in our homeschool. I love Pam's ideas for creating a restful learning environment and focusing on truth, goodness, and beauty as we begin our day together. I listen to these podcasts over and over and take notes!

  • Excellent for homeschooling veterans and newbies
    by ASnow512 from United States

    I'm very new to homeschooling and I'm still deciding if our family will pursue that path. This podcast has been such a wealth of information and a wonderful encouragement!

  • Inspiring and Uplifting
    by vabjohnson from United States

    I was immediately inspired to create a more cohesive structure to our homeschool mornings. This podcast is full of helpful suggestions to make morning time meaninful for every type of homeschooling family. I've already implemented many of the wonderful suggestions and I can already see the benefits! An absoulte must for the homeschooling family!

  • Bringing Joy
    by Louisiana Mommy T from United States

    What an amazing podcast! This podcast has wonderful suggestions for bringing joy to (or back to) your homeschool. Everything is doable and enjoyable for the children and parents alike. Keep up the wonderful work!

  • Great podcast!
    by corew50 from United States

    This is our first year of homeschooling and I am really enjoying the concept of morning time. It is a sweet way to start our day together and this podcast has been amazing! Enjoyable, super practical, and filled with lots of creative ideas. Thanks for creating it.

  • Inspiring, yet practical
    by mamato3cs from United States

    Pam's Your Morning Basket podcast is one not to be missed! She and her guests inspire and spur me on to do great things in our homeschool, but it's not just adding more to my to-do list. There are practical suggestions for how to make morning time a refreshing and vital part of our day.

  • Super Helpful & Encouraging
    by Sanibel4ever from United States

    I have been homeschooling for a many years. I like that I can count on Pam to make to make it worth my while (and my short amount of time!) for a listen. As always, practical info I can start using right away.

  • Great Poscast
    by Sarah B R from United States

    Love Pam's interviews. I learn much from each poscast!

  • A Joy to Listen to!
    by Cude 🙂 from United States

    I am thoroughly enjoying this new podcast! I love to listen to people who encourage me on my homeschooling journey and I have added Your Morning Basket to my list.

  • JUST what I needed!!!
    by Foodie in Training from United States

    This is our first year homeschooling (Kinder) and this podcast has been INCREDIBLY helpful and a GREAT source of information!!! I cannot wait for more to come!

  • Practical - worth a listen!
    by Bloggerific! from United States

    As a homeschooling mom of 6, my free time is limited. But I always come away with some practical, useful tips from Pam Barnhill. I love to listen if I’m alone in the car (rare these days!).

  • Well done [FIRST NAME]
    by MattMcWilliams from United States

    WOW… Your Morning Basket Podcast is flat out awesome. Good production quality. Easy to listen. Very impressed Pam. Keep bringing it.

  • Inspiring and refreshing!
    by BugTurner from United States

    What a great podcast. At first I was dubious whether you could have an entire podcast series about homeschooling using morning time, but now that I have listened to two of them, I see where Pam is going with this. It is affirming for me in what I am trying to do in our homeschool, and at the same time inspires me in ways to improve and refine our time together as a homeschooling family. I would recommend this to anyone who is looking to simplify their homeschool efforts while simultaneously enriching their family's experience!

  • Brilliant
    by SHTirm from United Kingdom

    I absolutely love it. Ever since I read about morning time, I wanted to know more. This podcast clearly explains what to do and how to do it. Episode with Cindy Rollins was brilliant. It gives you the overall idea of morning time practice, as she is doing it for 27 years. Andrew Pudewa in second episodes shared some insights about memorisation, which really makes so much sense. Pam asks clear questions and then repeats the main points in answer, which is very helpful, especially for new homeschooling mums. Overall this programme has everything one can ask for to get inspired and motivated. Thanks very much for putting so much effort. Well done.

  • Excellent!
    by RC5476 from United States

    I have really appreciated everything Pam Barnhill puts out. I have been introduced to so many great homeschoolers and their resources through The Homeschool Snapshots podcast, and I love that she is digging deeper into a great homeschooling practice on her new show, Morning Basket. It is definitely on my Must Listen list each week!

  • Bring the best you to your homeschool
    by mystiewinckler from United States

    Our Morning Time is the best part of our homeschool, and Pam’s podcast helps us learn how to make it even better and encourages us to pursue the true, good, and beautiful still more. So helpful!

  • Inspiring!
    by Mamato8 from United States

    I've only recently found out about Morning Baskets, after 14 years of homeschooling. What a find! And now to have these podcasts to help guide me along on my new journey! I've been sharing this like crazy, and my morning routine is fabulous now! Thank You!

  • Education to Educate
    by Isaac in St Louis from United States

    I have gained so much from these first two early podcasts. I am grateful to you, Pam. Thank you for offering this as we strive to fulfill our sacred duty and privilege to give our children an education. Please continue. I see such great things coming from this. I rank this up their with Circe’s offerings.

  • Wonderful
    by BGTwinsMom from United States

    When you're on the homeschool "circuit" it's easy to become one of Andrew Pudewa's groupies. So the excitement level for Pam's newest podcast doubled when I opened it on my iPhone and saw Andrew's name. I was remiss in not reviewing her first segment. Pam is a wonderful interviewer and has the ability to make conversation with her guests based on their answers and move seamlessly to her following questions. That is not easy to do. Highly recommend this to parents who Homeschool. Encouraging, motivating, and validating.

  • So Inspiring!
    by bethenyn from United States

    So inspiring! This podcast is what I needed to get our homeschool off to a great start this year. I will not miss an episode.

  • Inspiring and thought provoking!
    by Pascualamb from United States

    I've always thought memory work was so important in my 8 years as a teacher in a high school setting. I often required memorization and was criticized for this requirement. I recently decided to homeschool my children and this podcast was so affirming to me. I am glad to be able to follow my instincts as a teacher and give my kids what they deserve! Thank you for this wonderful podcast that inspired me to make memory work an important part of my homeschool.

  • Affirming & helpful
    by BOLDturquoise from United States

    I knew I would enjoy this podcast but I didn't know that I would LOVE it! As our family has moved more and more towards a simplified homeschool method, this podcast is just the thing to reaffirm our choices and continuously inspire us with new ideas. I can't wait for each new episode!

  • Inspiring
    by Amongst Lovely Things from United States

    This is just the kind of podcast I need to breathe life into my homeschool year. I’m so grateful for this new show, and Pam is a talented host. I won’t miss an episode!

  • Delightful...a Must Listen
    by 1coltsfamily from United States

    While I have heard Cindy Rollins speak about morning time before, I was pleasantly surprised to glean many new nuggets of wisdom that I can incorporate right away into our morning time. I always enjoy listening to Pam and find her questions spot on! The podcast is a wonderful balance of inspiration and practical tips. Can't wait for the next one!

  • Your Morning Basket
    by inakamama from Australia

    So lovely and inspiring! Looking forward to more...

  • Helpful & inspiring!
    by starlingsfive from United States

    A great resource for homeschool moms and so well put-together. Full of useful information, not fluff. Pam has a wonderful conversation style that keeps the show moving at a steady pace. I wish I didn't have to wait so long for the next one!



  • Karen says:

    Pam, this was a wonderful, inspiring podcast!! I have so many ideas flowing through my head! 😉 We have done a poetry teatime a few times and I really think that we need to do it more. Also, and I know this kind of goes against what Mr. Ireland was saying, but has been something my eighth grade daughter has loved doing, and that is Grammar of Poetry by Matt Whitling. IEW sells it and I also know that Compass Classroom does as well and sometimes they have a deal going on. Brandy Vencel did a review on it about a year ago and recommended it as well as the DVD’ s that go with it. I have to agree with her!! My daughter loves the program and it’s great for her age level. Just had to throw that one out there for your listeners!! I also highly recommend those poetry teatime that Julie Bogart talks about!! All of my kiddos look forward to those!! Thanks again for doing these podcasts! They are an inspiration and keep me going when I don’t want to go anymore. 😉 Have a very blessed day!

    • Pam Barnhill says:

      Glad you liked it! Nicholas and I were talking about a low-entry point to poetry to get people past any barriers they might have. Moving on to a deeper study of poetry is certainly something he would encourage. I have heard wonderful things about Grammar of Poetry. Thanks for mentioning it.

  • Lindsay says:

    This was a great episode and I learned a lot, but I was looking for #10 and the link seems broken as it directs me here over and over, and when I change the number to 10 on the link it says page not found. Can’t wait to be connected to the shownotes! Thank you!!!

  • Nicki says:

    I’m curious which Hopkins poems are Nicholas’s favorites? Especially the one that his friend at camp enjoyed so much that it led to his love for poetry. I just got a collection from the library and would love to know where to start. Thank you!

    • Pam Barnhill says:

      Nicki – Got this from Nicholas: My personal favorite Hopkins poem is The Leaden Echo/The Golden Echo, but I think his best poem is God’s Grandeur.

  • kpmomma says:

    Wonderful podcast, thank you!! This gives me lots to think about for our next school year!!

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