Coleridge composed "Metrical Feet" sometime between December 1806 and March 1807, enclosing it in a letter to his son, Derwent. Originally, the poem was composed in some form in December 1806 to assist Coleridge's eldest son, Hartley, with whom he was traveling. Sometime before sending it to Derwent, however, Coleridge completed or altered the poem and dated it March 3rd 1807. This is the edition that we know today as "Metrical Feet."
This was not the first time Coleridge composed poetry to entice his children to learn. For instance, in December of 1806 Coleridge also composed small poetic fragments to accompany a Greek grammar his son studied. The last couplet of one of these fragments echoes the same sentiments of fatherly affection and love of learning found in "Metrical Feet." These lines go: "My son, as your Father, for you I'm concerned:/ I trust you'll be good; and I hope you're be learned!-"
Although the original copy of "Metrical Feet" found in Coleridge's letter to his son is now torn, the remaining text demonstrates that the poet's desire to teach his children the differences between the metrical terms must have been sincere, for it contains the same accent marks found in the published edition.