How Poetry Can Help Kids Get Ready for School

How Poetry Can Help Kids Get Ready for School

April is National Poetry Month. To celebrate, we want to encourage families and teachers everywhere to read more poetry with young children. First, because it is fun!  And second, because it can help prepare children for school. Here’s how:

Poetry builds phonological awareness. The rhyming in poetry helps children become aware of the ways that words can be broken down into segments. This is a fundamental pre-reading skill.

Poetry boosts children’s memory abilities. Poems are often repeated (nursery rhymes, for example) to children. When the children repeat the poems that they know from memory, it helps build their abilities to remember other things, too!

Poetry helps build fluency. Poems are made to be read aloud. By repeating the poems out loud or reading short poems, children can build both their oral and reading fluency.

Poetry builds vocabulary. Poets use all sorts of words in their poems so this is a great way to help children build their vocabularies.

Reading poems may be less intimidating than reading whole books. There are lots of fun, short poems in the world. For readers who are just starting out, it may be easier to think about tackling a short poem than a whole book.

Poetry encourages children to play with words. Putting different combinations of words together, figuring out if different words rhyme, introducing new ideas. All this and more happens in poems. By demonstrating that words can be fun, poetry can inspire children to make up their own poems and songs which can help even the most reluctant readers be willing to keep reading and exploring.

Poetry helps children to express themselves. Poems are a great way to talk about feelings, thoughts, and dreams. Because they can be short, if children are struggling with writing, it may feel less intimidating to write a poem than a paragraph or a story. And children who might have difficulty articulating their thoughts could just pick out single words to describe how they feel and put them together in a poem.

There are many different kinds of poems in the world! Seeing all the different ways that poets use words to paint visual pictures and tell stories can be a great adventure. Join us this National Poetry Month by reading poems with your children and finding out how much fun it can be!

Text: © Kids In Transition to School 2021

Image: © Photosvit |

Katherine Pears
Dr. Katherine Pears is a senior scientist at Oregon Social Learning Center (OSLC). She earned her Ph.D in clinical psychology and has worked with OSLC since 1998. Katherine is the principal investigator and co-developer of the Kids In Transition to Schools (KITS) program. Currently, she oversees all the clinical and research activities for KITS. When she’s not in her office, you’ll find Katherine in the kitchen whipping up her latest creation or outdoors hiking a scenic trail.


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