Brave beginnings

with thanks to Tammi over on Ethical ELA for sharing the “sevenling” poem. She writes: “The sevenling is a seven line poem written in two stanzas with an additional single line wrap up. The first stanza (lines 1-3) consists of three lines with connected ideas, details, statements. The second stanza (lines 4-6) also contains three ideas, details or statements. These may or may not be connected to previous stanza. Line seven should wrap up the poem or offer a juxtaposition to your previous stanzas. Because of the brevity of this poem, the last line should leave the reader with a feeling that the whole story has not been revealed.”

This is my first sevenling, really a tribute to someone special…reveal to come afterward.

Facing the Inevitable

Life pivots on this point.
Resolute but trembling at the threshold,
she considers her new place of belonging.

Releasing pent-up breath,
she takes a draft of courage with familiar paper and pencil:
“#1 Teacher seems nice #2 Not too scary”

—She’s starting kindergarten. 

My granddaughter’s handwritten takeaway following kindergarten Open House:
“#1 Teacher seems nice #2 Not too scary”

Strength and safety to all going back into schools as COVID rages on.

Thanks also to Two Writing Teachers for the Slice of Life Story Challenge and for always promoting writing. To paraphrase Donald Graves: Children really do want to write. They want to leave their own marks on the world. At age five, that is. Too often “school” turns writing to a chore, emphasizing receptive literacy over expressive, or valuing the ideas of others over one’s own.

Let us be about nurturing a lifelong love of the craft and belief in the power of one’s own thoughts and voice.

Write bravely.

19 thoughts on “Brave beginnings

  1. All: I often quoted Graves when I facilitated writing workshop training for teachers in my district. My paraphrase comes from Chapter 2: “The Importance of Writing” (under the subheading “Why Don’t We Write?”) p. 23 of Children Want to Write: Donald Graves and the Revolution in Children’s Writing, editors Newkirk & Kittle, 2013.

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  2. I love this so much! Both because it’s wonderful that children want to write, and do write, and express what’s going on their heads, and because I’m so happy her teacher seemed nice and that school might not be too scary! Ruth, thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com

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  3. So glad your little granddaughter’s teacher is “not too scary”! Ha! I hope she is lovely and the year is a happy, memorable one, despite these trying times.

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    • I am not sure if she meant the teacher is “not too scary” or if she meant school in general – at any rate, that note flooded me with awe on several levels – that she can reflect in writing so well, having written the note in her carseat on the way home from Open House, and our having this window into her thoughts and feelings. One thing’s for sure: this year’s going to be an adventure for us all! Hope her teacher is prepared, lol!

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  4. I did not learn to love writing as a child, but want my grandchildren to feel this connection to paper and pencil. What a perfect way to process her emotions. Hoping to be a nurturer of the craft from my grandma spot.

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    • I started trying to write on my own when I was in first grade. I don’t recall loving it until fifth grade, when my teacher praised my “clear and vivid details” and told me that my writing was “good” – that surprised me. It made me want to do more. Teachers make ALL the difference… you certainly love writing now, Ramona, and your grandchildren will surely reap the benefits! Passion is contagious – I tell this to teachers all the time. If what they’re teaching is a chore to them, it will be a chore for the children as well.

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  5. First of all…kindergarten? How did that happen? Perhaps I blinked. But I love this piece she wrote, and I’m wondering what the expectation might have been for #2 noting her teacher was “not too scary.” Was she thinking her teacher might be? I always wonder what young kids think of the experiences around them. Guessing that writing, as you so expertly put it, is just one way to help kids help US understand what they’re thinking, how they perceive the world. I’m…so very glad that you are a person out there encouraging children to use their voices, Fran.

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  6. How lucky is your granddaughter, with a Gran-Fran who is already helping her express her feelings freely through writing! And how time has flown by; how can it be that she is in kindergarten already? We forget the courage it takes for our littles to begin this brand new journey, and your poem describes that bravery well. Teachers need this courage every year, too, to show up and be present even in the best of times; that bravery is being tested by the pandemic, to be sure.

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    • Gran-Fran – too cute. She calls
      me Franna, which I love! She actually wrote this note in her carseat on the way home from Open House. Of her own volition. I give my amazing daughter-in-law all the credit. I know: yesterday she was three and landed in my life as a gift straight from God. Now she’s going to school! My grandfather said time speeds up as you grow older and he was so right. Yes – we must remember the courage it takes for our little ones to face this major transition, masks and all.

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