One of the things I appreciate about our homeschool is that it isn’t an imitation of a formal classroom. We have a regular place to work in our downstairs den, a dedicated bookshelf, and a structured schedule for our day. But we aren’t limited to the confines of a classroom and can find fun and unique ways to add beauty to our learning. Because my children are young (6 and almost 3), sometimes it can feel like what I’m doing isn’t getting through to them. And this drains my morale. After a particularly discouraging few days, I decided to try an experiment. In an effort to add some beauty to our homeschool week, I gave poetry tea time a try.
I remember hearing about the way Sally Clarkson would have afternoon tea with her children. They would light candles, use the good china, and enjoy tea and a snack while listening to beautiful music or having meaningful discussions. When my son was younger, this idea seemed like a pipe dream. But after seeing that poetry tea time is a popular practice in the Charlotte Mason world, I thought maybe there was something to it. If I could model a love for beauty and poetry, maybe over time my children would grow into this ritual. Besides, let’s be honest, I didn’t have much to lose.
Poetry and Tea: What’s Not to Like?
I knew poetry was one of the subjects in a Charlotte Mason education, so I have tried to include it informally for a little over a year. Our library has several different children’s poetry collections on CD, and we have enjoyed listening to these in the car. My kids especially like A. A. Milne’s When We Were Very Young and Shel Silverstein’s A Light in the Attic (I remember this from my childhood!).
And then there is the tea and snacks aspect. I don’t know about you, but my kids never refuse a snack. Some weeks our snacks have been simple things that we generally have on hand. Things like gluten-free pretzels, cheese, and apple slices. Sometimes I can get a bit fancier and include seasonally themed snacks, like gluten-free pumpkin bread and caramel apple slices.
I have also been adding beauty to this time by using some of my china serving plates and lighting candles. The kids are fascinated by the candles, and it seems to add a level of reverence to the experience. I want them to think that this is a special time for us to enjoy each other’s company, provide some food for our bodies, and even more, to nourish our souls with beauty.
Poetry Tea Time Outcome
Poetry tea time is a hit in our homeschool! So, now once a week, I get out my candlesticks, light candles, make a special mug of tea or hot chocolate for the kids, put snacks on my pretty china plates, and read to them from some of our favorite poetry and nursery rhyme books. I hope this is a ritual that they will cherish and will bring them joy.
Please don’t hear me saying that having poetry tea time is an essential Charlotte Mason practice. Lizzie Smith, in a guest post on the Afterthoughts Blog, explains how the poetry tea time practice did not work for her family. There are situations where this practice may not be helpful. But if you would like to give it a try, Pam Barnhill has a great post on practical tips for poetry tea time.
I would love to hear whether you have poetry tea time at your house. What are your favorite snacks and books? If you’re interested in a Charlotte Mason education, be sure to follow Ambleside Tales on Instagram and Pinterest where I share about our Charlotte Mason homeschool. Also, join the Ambleside Tales community by entering your email address. That way you won’t miss out on messages of encouragement and other printable delights.