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    Hi everyone! Due to some of the recent posts on the topic of recitation and memorization, I wanted to share with you something I had put together for the recitation work we did as part of a Charlotte Mason fine arts co-op last year. I relied on Charlotte Mason’s original writings and Simply Charlotte Mason’s Language Arts handbook, Hearing and Reading, Telling and Writing

    We follow the spirit of the CM-philosophy in our home and not the letter of the law. I’m posting in love and in hopes it may be useful to some. Anyhow, you know I’m crazy about you all!

    Oh, and you can see Charlotte’s over-arching philosophy of avoiding parrot-work in mathematics as well. Both tables and Euclidean proofs were memorized only after  logical proof was made.

    Recitation and Memorization

     …Poetry is also memorized and recited in a CM education, though not required of a child younger than six.  In Charlotte’s schools, “Repetition” was on the time-table daily for twenty minutes each day, alternating between poetry, Bible, and hymns.  Children under the age of twelve would learn to recite a poem of choice, a hymn, Psalm and two passages of 6 verses each from Scripture or poetic prose per term.  Form IIA (approximately 10-12 years old) would memorize two Bible passages of 20 verses each as well as three poems per term in addition to hymn repetition.  Students in Form III might recite 150 lines of poetry and 60 Bible verses in a term or two passages of 20 verses each from their Bible reading, two hymns, two Psalms and either two poems of 50 lines each or a scene from Shakespeare.  


    Poetry recitation is not just parroting back a poem or imitating Mother’s reading but should be the interpretation and expression of a poet’s thoughts rendered in such a way as to convey the poem’s overall meaning to the listener.  Attending to clear enunciation and correct posture, poetry recitation lays the groundwork for public speaking.  Memorization remains an enjoyable process through simply reading the poem through in a beautiful manner one or two times a day and aids the child in the habit of making mental images.  The memorization of poetry and Scripture can be likened to the planting of seeds that will yield good fruit in season, perhaps by providing comfort or inspiration at another time.


    • Recitation should not be burdensome or laborious.
    • Reading a poem once or twice a day to your child is enough for the memorization of shorter poems or segments of longer poems.
    • Older children can read the poems aloud to themselves throughout the day.
    • Do not hurry a memorization.
    • Though improper pronunciation and posture should be corrected right away, the child should “find the just expression of thought for himself” (Vol. 1, p. 224).

    If you’ve read this far and want me to post what I’d written out for poetry as well, just let me know. 






    Excellent. I will be sharing with my CM co-op.


    Thanks for posting this! It’s just the information I was looking for.  🙂


    This makes me think of Ann of Green Gables (can not remember the exact part in the series). One women recites The Highway Man and does it well, but then Ann begines to recite it with such passion it brings tears to some. Yes it is a movie, but reading this made me think of the difference in reciting to recite and reciting to “make it your own”


    @sarah2106, Thanks, I’ll look forward to it. Something else truly inspirational is found in the film “My Boy Jack” when Rudyard Kipling recites his poem to King George V at the very end. The whole film may be too intense for youngers and certainly doesn’t glamorize Mr. Kipling but just showing that scene alone is an enriching experience.

    We brought a poet and Robert Frost enthusiast to our co-op at the beginning of Term I and his readings and recitations truly raised the bar for our students.




    Thank you for sharing this info. It’s exactly why we chose not to continue in a CC campus. It was just too forced. We still like a variety of things for memory work, but in a much more relaxed way once or twice a day; not every subject every day. There’s no deadline for memorization either. It’s like keeping a mental notebook. 🙂 I appreciate your clear explanation of CM’s suggestions. They help me to relax and trust a balance in our habits of learning.




    Becca – love the image of “mental notebook” thank you! The idea of what are they storing and why, and what am I storing and why…


    Hi, I am preparing my son’s recitation this year, and reading on and on…just need some clarity on this…is it best to recite a poem on monday, for example, psalm on tues..say parable on wed….etc…or should you recite the same poem each day for recitation until it’s learned, then move onto the psalm…last year, we tried each day a different type of recitation. i just want to get more fluent on how to do these things better…and also, do i read it aloud each day, then he reads it to himself, and then he tries to say parts without looking? i read how only when the child is sure he/she knows it should they attempt at saying it. i just need a clear method…i have read the article from the Parent’s Review about Recitation the child’s art…

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