He’s writing poetry

I could let you think that I’ve worked really hard to train my children in English, grammar, literature and poetry.  That we spend hours every day studying the classics, writing and discussing plot, character, rhyme and rhythm.


Or I could admit that we don’t write as much as I would like, that I don’t really have an English curriculum, and if asked about grammar, my kids would probably wrinkle up their eyebrows and say “Huh?”

My approach to all things English is rather casual, which may seem unusual since I was an English teacher back in my youthful spring- chicky days.  But I didn’t learn to love English until I was almost 18 years old.  All those years of grammar and writing in school were mostly drudgery that I approached with more than a little fear and trembling.

So my strategy with my own children has been to skip the drudgery and go straight to the fun stuff —- we read.  And read.  And read some more.  Then we talk.  And talk.   And talk some more.

We are kind of sort of sprinting sauntering through Susan Wise Bauer’s First Language Lessons over breakfast most mornings.  This works well for us because it is an oral discussion, rather than bookwork.  So the children are learning about nouns and plot and how to summarize their reading, but it is more of a casual, “by the way” manner.

For the most part, I do believe this style works well for us, but sometimes I worry that I’m not doing enough.  I actually thought about putting together a more intensive study in poetry and assigning them the task of writing some poems.

But today, Sidney finished his schoolwork by 11 am and sat at the computer composing his first poem.  It is called “Prairie.”


Prairie, Prairie, quite contrary,

How does your garden grow?

“With rosies and posies, that’s how my garden grows.”

Prairie, Prairie, quite contrary,

What is that I smell cooking?

“Apple pies, in the oven lies, that’s what you smell cooking.”

Prairie, Prairie, quite contrary,

May I have a bite?

“Of course you may, if you will fix the light!’

Is it worth it?


Sidney Louis Gaskins III



He even put his name and date at the bottom.  And all without that intensive poetry study or an official assignment from Mom.

Maybe I should mostly stick to my casual, “by the way” approach after all.

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