Giving Matters: Teaching Kids the Power of the Written Word

Aug 15, 2015

In 1915, Robert Frost and moved his family to Franconia, New Hampshire, where he wrote many of his best-known works in the farmhouse overlooking Mt. Lafayette. That house is now the Frost Place, and is open as a non-profit museum and poetry center. Visitors can tour Frost’s home and walk nature trails, as well as attend conferences and seminars hosted by the Frost Place. Ruth Harlow, a retired elementary school teacher, used Frost’s poems with her students.

Harlow: I discovered the Frost Place and the Conference on Poetry and Teaching. It is absolutely the best professional development I’ve ever discovered. It affirmed what I was already doing [in the classroom], but gave me many other techniques I could use.

Poetry is a really nice entry way for children to learn how to write. Because it’s smaller, children who are reluctant to write think, “Oh, I could do that” You have not lived until you have heard two children – two boys – that you don’t think are going to write arguing over line breaks. “No this is where it has to break because this is where I stop.” “This is what I want to emphasize.”

Because Frost lived here in New Hampshire, you can really key in on things [in his poems] that are happening in New Hampshire; you can key in on places in New Hampshire; everyday events in New Hampshire that kids can relate to. The Frost Place really belongs to the whole community. The children I [taught] in Holderness – I think it helped them understand, not so much New Hampshire history, but New Hampshire culture. I think that’s pretty exciting.

I had a young lady write to me at the end of one year. She said, “poetry is something Ms. Harlow made us love. We didn’t think we would, but we do.”