Hey there! if you are here for the list of poems to memorize, check out our list of Things For Kids to Memorize. Then come on back and listen to the podcast that tells you how to get it done.
Today on the podcast I am joined by Amy Sloan from humilityanddoxology.com and mom of five kids ages 4 to 14. For about the past five years Amy has made memory work a central part of her homeschool day.
In this episode Amy and I discuss how to be consistent with memory work, how you find great pieces to memorize, and practical ways you can make this happen in your home.
We also chat about the debate between memorizing facts versus spending your time memorizing other worthy passages, how to make it work for multiple ages, and even how to deal with attitudes if they arise.
Pam: This is your morning basket, where we help you bring truth, goodness, and beauty to your homeschool day. Hi everyone. And welcome to episode 64 of the, your morning basket podcast. I’m Pam Barnhill, your host, and I am so happy that you are joining me here today. We are continuing our archival episodes of your morning basket pulling over some of those morning time podcasts from the homeschool solution show podcast that I recorded in 2018. So what this episode of the podcast ended up being one of my absolute favorites from last year. And it’s funny because it’s practical, which you guys know I love, but I just didn’t realize how much fun this conversation would be and how much I would get out of it as kind of what I consider more Of a memory work pro. But I Had Amy Sloan from humility and doxology on the podcast,
and we chatted all about memory work. Why do it, how to choose memory work, which items to choose. And it’s great because it’s all from a mom’s perspective. You know, Amy is in the trenches each day with all of her kids and they’re working on memory work together. So the toddlers on the table, things are going crazy. She’s got all these kids and all of these differing viewpoints and volumes of loudness and all kinds of stuff going on.
And still she is a champion for them arising together. I think you’re going to enjoy this episode of the podcast and we’ll get on with it right after this word from our sponsor Today’s episode of the podcast is brought to you by my guide of five solutions for better homeschool mornings. Now, this is a quick, actionable little PDF guide that you can come download.
And it’s all about how to get your day off to a better start and stopping those morning struggles that sometimes pop up in our homeschools before they even begin. So in the guide, I will show you how your smartphone can actually be your biggest help. Yes. Help in getting your day started. Well, also my number one, secret sauce tip to getting everyone started with the school day with no yelling or whining.
We’ll also talk about the subject you should never ever do first in your homeschool day and why, and a quick and easy way to save a day that is starting to go off the rails. And then finally, some learning tips that even your toughest students will enjoy. So it’s a very short, actionable little PDF guide, and you can get it by going to Pam barnhill.com/better.
Get your free guide by going to Pam barnhill.com/better. And now on with the podcast, Amy And her husband, John are second generation homeschoolers by grace alone to five children ages four, seven, nine, 12, and 14. Their educational philosophy is one of humility and doxology and follows primarily a classical approach. Amy loves coffee and starts getting nervous. If the stack of,
to be read library books beside her bed is less than two feet tall. Get her started on Shakespeare, Jane Austin, Homer, or Hamilton, the musical, and it might be hard to get her to stop. Mostly though, she gets really excited about the gospel. You can find Amy online at her blog, humility and doxology.com. And she’s going to be talking to us today,
all about memory work in your homeschool from mother’s perspective. So Amy, welcome to the program. Thank you so much for having me, Pam. It’s really fun. I’ve been listening to you for years. Oh gosh. Now you’re making me feel old. That would make both of us then. Well, it’s so good to have you here. And this is something I’ve been wanting to do for a while because we’d had a few experts come on and talk to us about memory work,
some fabulous interviews with Andrew poodle and dr. Kevin bows, but we’ve not really talked about memory work from kind of the nitty gritty down in the trenches mom’s perspective. And so that was one of the things I really wanted to get from you today. And people are gonna find out later why you’re kind of the perfect person to talk to about this, but let’s start by you telling me a little bit about your family and you know,
how you started this homeschool thing. Okay. While we are both my husband and I are second generation homeschoolers, which gives us a really unique outside the box perspective, I think, and we always knew we wanted to homeschool from the very beginning. So it has been an adventure of course, with our wide age range. And that’s something we really love.
Okay. So there was never any question like this, you are not going to do this. No, it just came up very organically when we, even before we got married and yeah, we just jumped in. So your mom’s like, yes. So both my mom and my mother-in-law have definitely, I’ve learned different things from both of them. And then we kind of put our own twist on stuff and do it our own way.
Okay. Fun. So since you’re a second homeschooled or let’s talk about this memory work thing, and let’s go all the way back to when you were homeschooled, was this something either you or your husband did when you guys were being homeschooled? So not in the same way that we do it with our family memory work from the Bible is very important to both of our moms.
So we did a lot of scripture memory. And then there were a few poems that I remember from my own childhood. Actually, a lot of it didn’t happen until my high school years, but I, one of my favorite early childhood memories, it wasn’t even part of homeschool that my dad, for some reason, had the prologue to the Canterbury tales memorized in middle English.
And we would be driving home. It’d be driving down the road or whatever, doing whatever as a family and he’d start reciting it. So I don’t ever remember memorizing it. I’ve just always known it. Oh, that’s really cool. In middle English, in middle English. Oh, how much fun? How much fun is that? Okay, so now,
so you’ve always memorized Bible verses. This was something that you did as kids and everything and the random piece here or there. How did you get started doing this in your own homeschool on a grander scale? So from the beginning, you know, you’re a new homeschool mom and you have all these exciting ideas and it’s going to be perfect cause you haven’t done it yet.
And I really wanted to incorporate Shakespeare and poetry memory with my children. And for the first few years, it just didn’t seem to ever get done. And it was actually something that was kind of discouraging for me because I felt like I had this ideal, this thing I’ve really thought was important and I just couldn’t make it happen. We would not miss our Bible time.
We wouldn’t miss our scripture memory. You know, we wouldn’t miss math or like our core subjects, but we never got to the stuff that I really loved and wanted to share with my kids. So about five years ago, maybe is when I first heard it sort of like morning time, morning basket idea. And it was like a light bulb went off and I thought that’s how I can make this priority a reality.
And so that was when I started in finding a practical way to incorporate the memory work regularly in our family life. I love that. And that’s one of the things I love so much about morning time is all of those things. And you said it so well that ideal that you really wanted to do it and it just never got done. And morning time is so perfect for memory work or anything else like that.
You take those things that you just want to do, whether it be singing hymns or learning folk songs, or looking at art or listening to great music, whatever it is. And you put it in that morning time and it just, by putting those things in there together, it just gives it more weight in your day. Exactly. Yeah. Yeah.
Love that. Love that. Okay. So you said about five years ago. So this would have been like when your 14 year old was about nine before your youngest was born. So, you know, we’re looking at, at that point, I’m going to do math here. Nine, seven, four, and two. Sure. That sounds about right.
Okay. So, so what did it look like when you started, When we started, I literally just picked some of my own favorite poems and things I wanted us to memorize. So again, remember I still had really young kids, but I jumped right in, we did one of my favorite poems by John Dunn, the death be not proud poem. We did nothing.
Gold can stay. We did a little Shakespeare and of course we wouldn’t get to each of those poems every day, but I just started with the stuff that I loved, the things that delighted me. And I think then that enthusiasm kind of caught on or risk contagious or maybe I just brainwashed the kids really well. There’s value in that. Yeah. In some ways it’s changed like the specifics of what we’re memorizing have changed.
Some of course, like we change things up every year, every semester, but the basic framework has, has really always remained the same. Okay. Okay. So why in the world was this kind of thing important to you? So maybe not for the reasons why people might think I w I guess first, I would say why it wasn’t important to me and that’s that I don’t see memory work learning these sort of beautiful poems,
or we also do historical speeches, original source documents, like excerpts in the Magna Carta, things like that. It was not for the sake of like crafting virtue in my children. It wasn’t that I thought memory work was a magic formula. And if I could just get my kids to memorize a few, like really beautiful things that this was going to magically,
give them a good character. I’m going to rely on the Holy spirit for them. But At the same time, I do want them to believe what is true and to love what is good and to value and delight in the things that are beautiful. And this was one, one additional way I could share those kinds of things with them. And on the other hand,
so our kind of homeschool uses history or humanities sort of as a, one of the cores to our curriculum. And I don’t see history or science or any of these subjects as things that exist in isolation or things that are just like lists of facts, like dates and dead people, it’s ideas and it’s really your lives. And I think that incorporating the poetry of those real men and women or their actual speeches helps my children connect to the ideas of the things we’re learning and those people in those sort of movements throughout history in a way that just memorizing a list of facts,
but not do Okay. So everything you just said, there brought up a few questions that I want to ask. So do you memorize any facts at all? Are when we’re talking about the Sloan family memory work, it’s all scripture and poetry and source documents like speeches. Yeah. Not exclusively. I would say it’s weighted probably 90% not factual, which I even hate saying like,
not factual, but maybe like, not just a list of facts, I guess. So yes. About 90% is poetry, speeches, scripture, things like that. But we do incorporate a few kind of good hooks for the kids. Like we’ve done a list of the English monarchs after the conquest, because that just can get really tricky when you’re studying history or literature and there’ll be an allusion to some King or event.
And you’re like, I have no idea where that is in context, geography songs. I love finding songs for things we’re big, silly song people. So things like that, that kind of, again, it’s all things that give you a connection to the whole world and to people and sort of culture over time. So there are some facts. Yes.
Okay. Well, and that’s interesting that you say that because, you know, it’s, it always seems to be this, this I maybe dichotomy dichotomy is the word I’m looking for something. And people are like, well, do you memorize only poetry and scripture? And never like, you know, some people are really kind of snobby about this to be quite honest with you.
And I probably just alienated like half of my listenership where they’re like, we’re never, we’re never going to memorize those facts and things because that’s just useless to memorize facts out of context. Having said that I’m working on multiplication with a kid this year and having those skip counting songs is so helpful. And, Oh my goodness, every time my children look at a preposition and say,
it’s an adjective. I’m like, man, if they would just remember that preposition song and you know, they would know it was a preposition. So there’s, there’s some usefulness. I mean, I think there’s some inherent usefulness to having some of those bits and pieces. Definitely. I agree. So my husband is an engineer and so he’s all about practical and facts and usefulness.
And I agree with you. Sometimes people can make that a dichotomy like it’s either useful and practical or it’s beautiful. Well, sometimes the practical is beautiful and vice versa. So I still remember a song I learned in my own homeschool years of the bones of the body. And it actually has quite useful as a mom, when I’m talking to doctors about,
you know, broken bones or cuts or injuries, I’m like, Oh yes, I know where the tip is. Yeah. Yeah. I like, I have one that I could remember from fourth grade, which, you know, I’m just going to tell you, it was a million years ago now and I can still name all the capitals of all the States and it’s,
you know, it comes in handy sometimes. And it’s, I don’t know. And I don’t, it’s just interesting that you say like 90% is this beautiful stuff, this stuff full of ideas, this, these wonderful things that help my kids make connections with these people, but we’re going to put aside the 10% and, and save that for the stuff,
you know, that is really useful. The skip counting the Kings of England, you know, those kinds of things that, that just come in handy sometimes. And so I don’t think it has to be a total either or proposition. I’m going to tell you what I think, and you can tell me what you think in response to that. I think that families have to decide what the percentage is going to be like.
You could totally say, well, you know, in our family is important for us. We’re going to do a 90 10, or maybe we’re going to do a 40 50, but it’s always a give and take with time. You know, that that’s the limit right there. You only have a finite amount of time that you can spend memorizing things.
And so you have to make the decision, you know, where is the balance going to fall in Yeah. As homeschool moms, like whether it’s memory work or anything. I think just accepting our finiteness, accepting those limitations is where we find a lot of joy and peace instead of trying to like, do all the things, like, just accept the limits of time and space and energy,
and then figure out what is best for your own family. Right. Right. Okay. So most of us know that there’s great benefit to kids in learning memory work. It’s going to help shape them as writers because of the sophisticated language patterns. And then we’ve already talked about some of the educational benefits, connecting them with ideas and with great people through history,
and then also learning some of those facts. But, you know, aside from those benefits, what do you hope your kids get out of this memory work? Are there some other motivation besides academic or educational benefits for you? Yes. I think two things immediately came to mind for this question. One of them is I do have a wide age range.
So a 10 year gap between my oldest and my youngest and our morning time memory work really gives us a shared culture, shared quotes inside jokes, even that come up, just sort of like, you know, you had a movie you watched as a family or something like that. So I really love seeing that, that shared experience across the whole family.
And I think something else that I have noticed, I have some children who are more or less able to articulate their emotions, you know, the kind of emotional intelligence kind of thing. And I think that a lot of these poems, especially have given them a way to have a vocabulary, to express really complicated thoughts and feelings. I even had one of my daughters,
her favorite poem is my shadow by Robert Louis Stevenson. And she told me one time we were at the playground and she just needed to take a break for a minute. She came over and sat down beside me. And she said sometimes when I just get a little overwhelmed, I like to recite my shadow and it just helps me calm down. Oh yeah. So Just recited it for me.
And then she went back to play. So it’s sort of like a connection to their heart to, in ways that maybe as a child, they can’t really articulate an emotion or a thought, but it gives them a way to express that. Oh, that is totally awesome. That she was able to make that connection and then use that as basically a tool in her emotional toolbox to kind of gain control of herself.
Yes, exactly. Oh, that’s awesome. Okay. So what about you? Wow. What has memory work done for you as a mother? Because, okay. And we’re going to get into kind of the, some of the nitty gritty later, but you’re memorizing this all right. Along with them. I’m pretty sure that’s how it’s happening at my house,
right? Yes, definitely. So I guess number one, I would just say it’s really fun. There’s no way I would like let my kids do this memory work independently and then come and like recite it to me like a quiz or something, because it’s just fun. I love it. It’s delightful. And I think their enthusiasm feeds off of mine.
So that would be the first thing. I mean, that’s not profound, but it’s fun. And then secondly, of course I can’t memorize as easily as these kids. Like they can just recite stuff, word for word, but even just those phrases, those bits of thought, they have the same effect in my heart that they’re having in the kids.
So It’s good stuff. Okay. So let’s, let’s talk for a little bit about the practical, cause I know people are gonna want to know what this looks looks like. And the first question they probably have is like, you’re doing like thumbscrews and staff to get your kids to sit still and, and memorize all this stuff. Cause kids hate memory work,
it’s drill and kill and it’s drudgery. I’m sure that’s what it looks like at your house, right? Oh yeah. We’re just crying every day. Now We are, but not over. Yes. Yes. I should clarify. That is true. So One huge tip I have is don’t try to do too much, especially when you have younger children.
I have always had either a toddler or now I guess my youngest is four, still very enthusiastic and we’ve always done morning time with little people. And if we tried to do too much in one day, I think it would be, it would make a soft grumpy. So we do a very small amount in any given day, over the course of a semester or a year,
we actually do quite a bit, but we’re using the loop schedule. I think I probably first heard from you and that is hugely helpful. You can never get behind you just do the next thing. If somebody is having a bad day, I am not going to make someone, especially when you’re talking about like tweens and teens who maybe are having a hard day.
If they’re too grumpy, they don’t need to be in there ruining the memory work for everybody. We’re all allowed to have a hard day. So I think that has been the biggest thing. Just not trying to do too much at one time picking things that are fun, getting up and moving around while we’re reciting, like charge the light brigade. Like you have to Gallop around the room when you recite that one,
including mom, like do silly voices, you know, those kinds of things just make it fun. Yeah. Yeah. And I, you know, I’m going to say like, even if there’s no official movement for the poem, like there’s a lot of movement going on. There’s either, you know, there’s usually some kind of drawing or like people like chow,
accouts, gymnastics or something, you know, people standing, standing on their heads, all of this kind of stuff. As long as they’re not disturbing, me and their mouth is moving, I’m typically fine with it. Yeah. The four year old today had a big pile of cushions and he was running and jumping, calling it his cannon ball. But you know,
we could all keep reading and reciting. It was fine. Kept him occupied. Yeah. Okay. So you put just the memory work on a loop schedule. Is that what I hear you say? Yes. Yes. So, well, I mean, different years, we’ve done a few different things, but the memory work is always on a loop schedule because I always have more things I want us to,
to recite than I have time for in a day. So we actually just recite one scripture passage. I like to memorize an entire chapter at a time and one other, so like poem, speech, something like that. So we always do our Bible memory and then the other poetry work is on a loop. Okay. So I really want to wrap my head around how this looks and help some moms with it.
So let’s say you’re learning a new poem. Are you doing that when every single day until you get it or is it going in this loop and you’re doing it like once every, how many days explain to me how that works. Yes. So we are always looping whether we know something by heart or not, I print out the memory work and each child has their own copy.
Even the pre readers have their own copy because they want to be like the big kids. And we just read it together. Literally we start at the beginning and we read it through together. And then the next day we read the next poem or speech. And the day after that we read the next one. So generally we’re looping through about once a week.
And because we’re able to do something consistently because I haven’t like made a goal. That’s impossible to keep or getting to it over and over and over again. Like we’ve already gotten to these, these poems several times this school year. Okay. So is, does your loop only contain first of all, bout how many poems does it contain? Cause you said you’re getting to it about once a week.
So are you at any given time you have about five poems on your loop? Yes. So like this year we are studying modern history. So I kind of used that as a jumping off point, aside from our scripture memory we’re doing in Flanders field, October by Robert Frost, the new Colossus by Emma Lazarus and an excerpt from a speech by Winston Churchill.
So that’s actually only four things. I’m pretty sure I’m not forgetting anything. And that even gives us a day. Like if we miss a day or something, we can easily get to everything at least once a week. Okay. And so how long will you do that particular loop? Will it be like all semester, all year We will loop through those a few months through the year when we get to the holiday season,
we always take a break and do something holiday ish. So like advent and we’ll totally change things up because maybe the kids don’t get bored. I don’t know. I’ve never asked them that I would get bored if we did the same thing all year. So I also put in a few kind of bonus months where we do Shakespeare instead of our regular poetry.
So I try to find a good balance between consistency and repetition while also changing it enough to keep us all interested. Okay. And then, so what about stuff you learned last March or last April? So where does that fit into the equation? Because if you don’t practice it, eventually they’re going to lose it, right? Yes. So different years have looked differently.
This year is a little bit harder because I have a couple of kids doing high school level work along with my preschooler. And there’s just not enough time to incorporate as much review as we have in the past. So this year my plan is to sort of show up like at least once a month and just surprise the kids when it’s morning time and be like,
okay, everybody, everybody, you know, share their favorite thing from past years memory work and we’ll all recite it together. I have all of those old things in one binder. So we’ll just do like a fun review day Just for fun. Okay. Okay. So you’re reviewing stuff about once a month. You’re you’re picking four or five pieces and reviewing those old pieces.
Yes. Okay. And so I just really want to stress the fact that you said you’re sitting there reading this all together and that’s all you’re doing. And so one of the ways that this, I really made this work in my house and people have heard me say it before, but I think it bears saying again was, it’s not like I sit down and say,
okay, we’re going to do my shadow. Now you guys start and expect. It’s like, it’s a quiz. Like I’m putting them on the spot. I mean, it’s so much easier than that. We’re just, and actually in my house, I’m the only one reading it. I’m the only one who actually has a printed copy. They listen until they learn it.
So we follow the IDW, the linguistic development through poetry, memorization, and we read, so we start with the first poem and we do right now. We do every poem every day. And one day, not too long ago, I got curious because we’re like, I think we’re on like poem 12 or 13 or 14 or something like that. But we’ve stuck extra pieces in there.
Like you I’ve put, we’ve got some Shakespeare that we’re doing in there. And we were doing nothing. Gold can stay and I’ve got some additional pieces. So I was like, how long is this taking us? Like reciting through all of that? Like, you know, probably a good 14 pieces. It takes like 10 minutes tops to do all of it.
I was amazed at how little time it takes. So we do the, every poem every day. And then as we learn a new one, we learn little chunks of it at us as at a time. So I think the big thing is, is it’s, it’s something you’re doing together. You’re not quizzing your kids constantly, which I think kind of puts up this relationship.
That’s not conducive to this being something that your kids are going to enjoy. So what about your scripture? Does it kind of work the same way as your poetry and other memory does Last year, we actually discovered a tremendous pack that has helped our scripture memory. So we do an entire chapter at a time and we’re doing the whole chapter every day. I broke it up on the printout that I have for each child about every verse alternates,
light print, dark print, light print, dark print. So on the actually then read it responsively. So we take turns being the person who reads the light print. So we’re just basically going back and forth reading the whole chapter or maybe one day the boys read the light print and the girls do the dark print or a to say, Hey, can I read,
you know, the light print today or whatever. And that has been amazing. It’s really kept us focused throughout the entire chapter, like a longer chunk of memory work because you have to pay attention when it’s your turn. And it’s helped us memorize the Bible verses a lot faster. Okay. So I want to know what chapter are you working on right now?
We are doing Psalm 51 this fall, we’ve done Psalm one 39. We’ve done Hebrews 11, done some of the beatitudes. My kids would probably remember better than, than I do. Is it that The way it is like, yes, they like, we’re sitting there reciting. I have the book in front of me. I’m looking up like trying not to look at the book and making all these mistakes.
And my daughter’s given me, you know, she’s the teenager. So I’m getting kind of like the rolled eyes, mom look saying the wrong words. Yeah. And she’s totally got it. You know, it’s funny. I had a conversation with a lady at one of the conventions this past spring, and she made the comment that she wondered if it would,
it’s better for the kids to not have a copy of the memory work in front of them are not. And I said, well, I don’t know. We’ve only ever done it where my kids have not had a copy of the memory work, where they couldn’t see it. I’m the only person who has ever had a copy. And I’m the weakest memorizer,
but it doesn’t sound like in your house where everybody does have a copy, you’re still the weakest memorized Pretty much. I’m still the weakest link. It probably has more to do with AIDS that it has to do with whether or not you have a copy to depend on in front of you or not. I think that’s it. Yeah. Yeah. I think so,
too. Okay. So how do you choose, well, you’ve, you’ve already mentioned that you started by choosing things that you like, but how, what other kind of criteria do you have for choosing memory work? So I often do start with what we’re going to be studying in history for the year and either find poems about the time period or poems by poets from that time period,
find any, you know, documents that make sense. Like last year in New York and history, we did parts of the constitution, parts of the declaration of independence, parts of the Magna Carta, things like that. So like this year we’re studying modern history, we’re doing an excerpt from one of Winston Churchill’s speeches. So that’s really where I go first,
when I’m trying to think of, of limiting myself from all the wonderful things we could memorize. I, I really generally start with our history. Okay. And we just want to let everybody know. Amy has some fabulous free resources on her firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s a year of memory work. So talk to us a little bit about what that looks like. Cause you have some,
and you have some YouTube videos, right? Yeah. So every Friday at 10 on my Facebook page, I have a new week, a new video for the week and I have the printables on there, a humiliate doxology.com. And then of those videos are the same videos are also on YouTube. So every week there’s a new installment and we’ve had poems speeches,
Bible verses, and you can just print them off and recite them with your family. Okay. So like a mom, if she wanted to, she could certainly watch the video. Cause you know, sometimes it’s great. Like how do you pronounce this? Or, you know, it’s lovely sometimes to hear things, especially things like Shakespeare, somebody reading it with a good inflection.
So it’s like, Oh, it makes so much more sense to hear somebody read it, but they could also use these videos with their own kids if they wanted to. Couldn’t Definitely, that was Michael both to sort of show moms. Here’s how you can read something enthusiastically. And also like if a mom just wants that extra benefit, that extra video to just watch it with her kids and recited along with me,
that works too. I actually, a couple of the videos are one of my kids reciting one of the things that we’ve learned my daughter, in fact recites my shadow, one of the videos. Okay, fine. Yeah. I was going to ask you, is it just you or do your kids kind of get in on it as well? So do you ever let the kids pick memory work?
The short answer is no because I have five and we really don’t need one more place for sibling conflict or arguing. So I pick the stuff that I love. And so far that hasn’t been an issue now. I mean, if somebody came and was like, mom, I just really love this poem or whatever. I really want us to memorize it.
I would of course find a way to incorporate that in. But so far I just pick what I like. Okay. So now let’s talk about, I really want to drive home the point, like everybody in your family is doing this together. So the four year old is memorizing the piece from the Magna Carta and Shakespeare and things like that. Has this been a problem for the young children?
No. So I’m not expecting the four-year-old to give the attention he’s picking up, you know, what he, whatever he picks up, he picks up and we’ll cycle through a lot of these, these, again in the future. But even like when I had a child who was a pre reader, but more of an age where I expected them to set and participate,
they were able to pick things up really easily. So, and I haven’t found any of them may be more difficult or challenging themes to really be a problem. I mean, we started with death, be not proud when my kids were really little, I think children, they love, they love things that are really beautiful and thoughtful. And sometimes we maybe expect that,
Oh, well, they won’t like that. Cause it’s not like about a kid topic, but that hasn’t been the experience with at least with my own children. Right. Right. And so do you ever go back, have you gone back and tried to, since everybody is together and you know, it’s not like you’re parsing out separate memory work and I know that there are some families that do that where,
you know, like the 11 year old has their own piece of memory work and the nine-year-old has their own piece of memory work. Quite frankly. I don’t know how they do it because like, you know, they’re, I don’t have that brain space. I don’t or the time or anything like that. It’s like, Nope, we’re just all going stay here and do this together.
Have you ever done like nursery rhymes or something so that your little kids would get that benefit? Well, we read nursery rhymes where I read picture books at other times with my, with my little ones that I haven’t necessarily done that as part of our morning time with all of the ages. So I do sometimes incorporate more like nonsense Pelhams or what might be considered as the children’s pillow.
My guests like, like my shadow, the kind of like, you know, CS Lewis talks about like a children’s book, a good children’s book is good for an adult. I think good poetry is good for all ages. So yeah. Yeah. We have one, I mean we have a few, so the way our program works is it does kind of start with some of those easier,
a little more fun poems to kind of hook those kids who are beginning reciters. And so, you know, we started with ooey, gooey and celery by Ogden Nash and you know, those kinds of poems. And so like the yak by Hilaire block is such a fun poem. It doesn’t, you know, they’re all fun, good poems that I don’t mind memorizing as an adult because they are just so delightful in their own way.
Yeah. Like Jabberwocky that’s one of our family’s favorite. It’s just a ridiculous, delightful cavorting poem that, that all of us can enjoy. Yeah. Yeah. So I think, I think you can kind of hit both ends of the spectrum. You can do the piece of the Magna Carta and then you can also, or death be not proud or Flanders field.
It’s so funny hearing you talk about that because like we’re doing like at least two of the poems that you memorize that you mentioned this year, we’re doing as well this year. So it’s so fun to, to hear you talk about that. Okay. So you have your list, you have your loop, you’re working on these poems at, you know,
various points through most of the year. How well do you have to have them memorized before you move on to another selection? So there’s sort of two parts to this. Some of my children, frankly, memorize like within a week or two, and it’s really annoying, but that’s not true for all of them. So I have to find that balance between not reciting it so often that the child who learned it really well is going to get bored while also giving some of the other children a chance to absorb absorb it.
So I try to really read the room. Some of that, I don’t plan out ahead of time. If I notice that that people are getting kind of over it, then I’ll just decide to put that one on pause or maybe just take it out of the loop for a while and come back to it another month. So that is not something I really planned for it.
It’s more something I kind of feel out with the attitudes in my family now Going for what we would call word perfect. On these poems. Are you going for mostly there in the ideas or what’s important? Yes. It’s mostly there, there are some children who get it word perfect. There are others who don’t, which is again, a reason I like having it printed out that doesn’t kind of lead to that comparison where like,
there’s the one kid who always seems to do it really well and corrects everybody else. So we just do it and we’re up to the ideas and has kind of sink down into our, into our hearts. And I don’t worry so much about WordPerfect right. And because we’re not doing this to perform for anybody, then it it’s okay. That it’s not WordPerfect.
Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. So what kind of challenges come up to doing this in your home? So the biggest Challenges are probably not related to the memory work. It’s probably more related to the people in the living room than the actual memorization and then just being consistent. And you have to not only set the plan and the goal, but make sure that that it’s really going to happen.
And so we’ve, we’ve found that by having an established time where we all, almost every day, it’s the same time, same place. Everybody knows what it’s going to look like. That has just taken out that decision fatigue. Like we don’t have to question, Oh, well Lily, or will we not do memory work today? It’s just part of our,
our ordinary life. Yeah. That’s so big. I mean, with anything that has to do with homeschooling, when you can, when you’re so consistent, you eliminate that question. Like they don’t even ask, they know, like I just might as well show up. This is what’s going to happen. There’s no sense in even asking it’s such a big thing for getting things Done.
Definitely. So how do you stay motivated when these kinds of challenges come up other than being consistent? Is there anything that motivates you A coffee coffee’s real big. I always had my cup of coffee during wordings that time, that, and just finding things that we want to memorize. Like if, if it’s a drudgery and it’s, it’s dull and lifeless,
then we aren’t going to want to do it. And it’s just going to take all of our self-control just to like get there. So I try to find things that we really enjoy and love memorizing, and then we want to do it. Have you ever had a mutiny, a memorization mutiny, Like on a day, someone can have a bad day.
And my kind of thought with that is I’m not going to fight with you like over a bad day. Cause sometimes I have a bad day. And so I’ll generally just excuse that person for the day and just not make a big deal about it. So we haven’t had like a longterm mutiny and I think that being gracious to our children, just like we would want someone,
including our children to be gracious to us with those hard days really goes a long way. So we have never had, I can’t think of anything that I’ve wanted us to memorize that people hated. Yeah. So I just let people have bad days every once in a while, as long as it doesn’t become a pattern. Yeah. And you know, I’m just going to say that I feel like for you and for me too,
that one of the things that makes this really work is our enthusiasm for it. This is something that we really feel is important and we’re enthusiastic about and we enjoy doing. And so therefore it kind of spills over to our kids. So even if they’re not like a hundred percent on board, they’re still feeling that and coming along with it. Yeah. It’s just not something that sometimes I’ll have moms who say,
Oh, how do you make this work? It’s like, it’s not that hard, but I, I think it’s not that hard because of how I feel about it, you know? Yeah. I’ve had people ask like, what should I pick for morning time? And I, I mean, I think there are things that are like objectively good to memorize.
Like I can get bossy if you want me to boss you around, I’ll tell you what to memorize. But, but I think a good place to start is just, what’s something that feels like you, the mom with excitement, even if that’s just the first thing you do, like start with something that you just can’t wait to share with your kids.
And that attitude is going to do more for setting up the success. If memory work long term, I think then like finding some like checklist of the beestings everyone should know. Yeah. Yeah. I think so too. I think so too, having said that if you are looking for ideas, as I know moms so often are looking for ideas, you know,
Amy’s got her a year of more memory work on her blog. We’ve got some resources that we can link to on ours as well. So if you’re like, what am I going to pick? I have no idea what to pick. I can’t even remember what excites me, look down the list and see what you can come up with from there. And we’ll give you a helpful hand getting started with some of those resources.
So Amy, thank you so much for joining me here today. Thank you so much for having me And there you have it. Now, if you would like to follow Amy’s weekly morning time videos, be sure to check out Humility and doxology on Facebook, or if you’re not on Facebook, can you prefer YouTube? You can find humility and doxology there as well.
And of course we have links to all of this for you on the show notes for this episode of the podcast, you can find all of email@example.com forward slash Y M B 64. And we can get you hooked up with Amy over there and you can also leave us a comment and learn how to leave a rating or review our for the, your morning basket podcast on iTunes,
the ratings and reviews that you leave, help us get word out about the podcast to new listeners. And we really appreciate you taking the time to do that. Now I will be back again next week with the wonderful Cindy Rollins. This is our final kind of from the archives episode of the podcast and Cindy and I talked all about memory working memory as part of the grammar stage of a classical education,
except there’s a bit of a twist on it. Instead of talking about grammar stages, memory, our memory work, we talk about it as remembrance. Now this concept comes from Stratford Caldicot book beauty in the word, which is a favorite of both mine and Cindy’s. And Cindy has started talking about this often in a lot of her talks around the country all about morning time.
And so it’s really fascinating. It’s a great take. It’s a wonderful conversation and I hope you come back and join us for that one next week until then keep seeking truth, Goodness and beauty in your homeschool day.
Links and Resources from Today’s Show
- SPONSOR: Better Homeschool Mornings
- Amy’s website, Humility and Doxology
- Amy on Instagram, @humilityanddoxology
- Humility And Doxology Facebook Page
- 12 Poems Every Child and Adult Should Memorize and Know By Heart
- A Year of Memory Work
- The Ultimate Guide to Memory Work
- 100 Things to Memorize: Memory Work for Homeschool
- YMB #24 A New/Old Look at Memory Work: A Conversation with Kevin Vost
- Holy Sonnets: Death, be not proud by John Donne
- My Shadow by Robert Louis Stevenson
- Celery Poem by Ogden Nash
- Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll
- In Flanders Fields by John McCrae
Key Ideas about Memory Work
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