Composition in the Form of Written Narration Begins by Age 10

More Than a Charlotte Mason Moment

According to Charlotte Mason, composition in the form of written narration should begin by age 10.

When children narrate, they tell back in their own words what they have just read or heard. Charlotte Mason considered oral narration as the earliest form of composition. She used the words “narration” and “composition” interchangeably. Charlotte Mason had children under age 9 take care of their composition instruction by orally narrating. She had them intertwine these narrations with history, science, reading, and the like. By age 10, children were ready to begin composition in the form of written narration. At Heart of Dakota, we agree!

According to Charlotte Mason, in written narrations, the child and the author should be trusted to be left alone together.

According to Charlotte Mason, composition in the form of written narration is “as natural as running and jumping to children who have been allowed to read lots of books.” If they orally narrate first of all, they will compose sooner or later, but they should not be taught “composition” as a separate body of information to be learned. Instead, it is important that the child and the author be trusted to be left alone together. There should be no middle-man such as a teacher telling the child what the book said, or about what to think. According to Charlotte Mason, our business as teachers is to “provide children the material for their lessons, while leaving the handling of that material to themselves.” In short, we are not to hamper them by too many instructions. At Heart of Dakota, we agree!

According to Charlotte Mason, reading living books and narrating from them helps children develop their own individual style.

Children who have gotten into the habit of reading good literature absorb what they will from it themselves, in their own way, whether it’s a lot or a little. Reading living books and narrating from them helps children to begin to form their own literary style. Because they have been in the company of great minds, their style will not be an exact copy of any one in particular, but will instead be shaped as an individual style from the wealth of materials they possess to create a natural style of their own. At Heart of Dakota, we agree!

According to Charlotte Mason, written narration done properly develops self-expression and individual literary style.

Narration done properly develops the power of self-expression and invites a child’s personality to become part of the learning process. A child should choose vocabulary he finds appealing, make it his own, and then give it forth again with that own unique touch that comes from his own mind. This is why no two narrations should be exactly alike. It is also why teachers should not expect their children to give the same narration they would have given. At Heart of Dakota, we agree!

Written narration requires higher level thinking than fill-in-the-blank and multiple choice questions.

Narrating requires a higher level of thinking. Consider the skill it takes to fill in blanks or choose from multiple-choice answers. Now, consider the skills it takes to retell a story you have just heard or read! Clearly the latter proves to require higher-level thinking. In order to demonstrate the complex skill of narrating, try your hand at it yourself. Now that you’ve read much of this blog post, try this! Walk away and get a sheet of paper to write down all that you can remember. Or, would you find it easier if you were now given multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blank, or true/false questions instead?

Oral and written narrations improve children’s composing abilities and public speaking skills.

Narration provides far more information about children’s comprehension because they must answer without the support clues provided by questions. Charlotte Mason replaced the quiz, test, chapter review, and book report by something far more effective. Why? She found what children take time to put into their own words is retained because it has become their own. With narration, you’ve just found the key to really knowing what your children know! This is why, even after children have become skilled at writing narrations, oral narrations are continued. Maintaining oral narrations keeps improving both a child’s composing ability and his public speaking skills. There is simply not a better way to “test” a child’s comprehension and retention than oral and written narration!

Heart of Dakota’s guides include step-by-step tips on how to teach, practice, and edit written narrations.

Once written narrations are assigned, each Heart of Dakota guide includes clear, step-by-step tips on how to teach and practice the skill of written narration. We provide both teacher and student tips for written narrations before, during, and after the narration process. Furthermore, we provide a Written Narration Skills List to guide students through the process of incrementally working toward editing their written narrations, which is different than revising, mastering one small step at a time.

We begin formal written narration instruction in Preparing Hearts for His Glory once weekly. We continue composition in the form of written narration through 12th grade, incrementally progressing this Charlotte Mason inspired skill in length, complexity, and depth. Our final U.S. History II high school guide includes eight types of written narration: detailed, recorded, summary, key word, highlighted, topic, opinion, and persuasive. We based these types of written narrations upon the composition assignments Charlotte Mason assigned herself, according to her own detailed descriptions.

In Closing…

In closing, here are a few inspiring quotes from Charlotte Mason in regard to composition in the form of written narrations…

Children in this Form (Ages 9-12) have a wider range of reading, a more fertile field of thought, and more delightful subjects for composition. They write their little essays themselves (referring to written narration), and for the accuracy of their knowledge and justice of their expression, why ‘still the wonder grows’. They’ll describe their favorite scene from “The Tempest” or “Woodstock”. They write to ‘tell’ stories from work set in Plutarch or Shakespeare or tell of the events of the day. They narrate from English, French, and General History, from the Old and New Testament, from “Stories from the History of Rome”, from Bullfinch’s “Age of Fable”, from, for example, Goldsmith’s or Wordsworth’s poems, from “The Heroe’s of Asgard”: in fact, Composition is not an adjunct but an integral part of their education in every subject. (Vol. 6, p. 192)

Having been brought up so far upon stylists the pupils are almost certain to have formed a good style: because they have been thrown into the society of many great minds, they will not make a servile copy of any one but will shape an individual style out of the wealth of material they possess; and because they have matter in abundance and of the best they will not write mere verbiage. (Vol 6, p. 194)

At Heart of Dakota, we agree!

In Christ,

Julie

A Breakthrough in Spelling: Charlotte Mason’s Method of Studied Dictation

A Breakthrough in Spelling: Charlotte Mason’s Method of Studied Dictation

Charlotte Mason’s method of studied dictation was truly a breakthrough in teaching spelling! The good news is, we can still do it today, and it only takes 5 minutes. So, just what is Charlotte Mason’s method of studied dictation? Well, to put it simply, she had children study a passage first. Then, she had the parent dictate the passage phrase by phrase, had the children repeat the phrase, and had the children write it. This was all done from a single reading, without repetition. She then had children immediately fix any errors, using the passage that was studied for help. Pretty easy, right? Well, at Heart of Dakota, we love Charlotte Mason’s method of studied dictation, and here’s why!

In studied dictation, children learn the skill of seeing correctly spelled words within the context of writing.

In studied dictation, children have to capture the whole image of a sentence or a passage in their minds. They need to look at the sentences as a whole, as well as capture the individual words and their parts. This really trains children in the habit of seeing correctly spelled words within the context of writing. After all, this is the ultimate goal of learning to spell! We want kiddos to carryover their spelling to their writing. So, practicing spelling words within the context of writing sentences just makes sense.

In studied dictation, children learn to listen carefully, which helps them strengthen auditory skills.

Studied dictation also forces kiddos to strengthen auditory skills, as they listen to the parent read the passage only once. Children learn to listen for the purpose of repeating perfectly from a single reading. Prior to writing, they then repeat back what the parent said. This strengthens the skill of holding a phrase or sentence in the mind long enough to be able to repeat it back without error and then write it.

In studied dictation, children learn to proofread their work carefully and check it with a model.

After writing the phrase or sentence, children then proofread their work before checking it against the model. This is a terrific way for children to form the habit of proofreading their written work! It truly makes good proofreaders out of kiddos over time. Last, they check their own work, which trains children in checking their work against a correctly written model. They become precise checkers with continual practice.

In studied dictation, children learn to practice immediate correction.

When children miss a passage, they mark any mistakes on the passage. They then immediately correct the mistakes on their own copy. In doing so, children practice yet another skill, which is immediate correction. Moreover, the following day when the child must repeat a passage, he/she pays much closer attention to whatever was missed the day before. This, in essence, finally causes the incorrect mental picture of a word in the mind to be rewritten or mentally corrected. The old, incorrect image is now replaced with the new, correct image. This is the very mental work that must be done in order for the poor speller to fix his/her poor spelling habits. It is also something the good speller does naturally.

Charlotte Mason had a continual focus on children NOT seeing words written incorrectly.

Charlotte Mason had a continual focus on children NOT seeing words written incorrectly. She believed the incorrect image of the word became imprinted on the mind (causing the “wrong” spelling to now “look” right)! This is why kiddos who struggle with poor spelling often have no idea whether a word is spelled correctly or not. It is because they have seen the word written incorrectly so many times that their mind can’t recognize the correct spelling – even when they try!

Charlotte Mason would not have been an advocate of spelling programs that require children to find misspelled words within passages.

Many spelling programs have a section that requires a child to find the misspelled word within a provided passage. In light of Charlotte Mason’s method of studied dictation, this type of exercise is definitely not a good idea! It actually gives the mind yet another opportunity to take a mental picture of an incorrectly spelled word! The theory for including this within a spelling program is that it is good practice for standardized tests,where kiddos will be asked to find the incorrectly spelled word. But in truth, it is training the child to focus on the misspelled word rather than on the correctly spelled words! Children who have been trained in the studied dictation method often have no trouble finding incorrectly spelled words on tests. They are too used to seeing the words spelled correctly! Incorrect words truly jump off the page… no practice needed!

Heart of Dakota and Studied Dictation

At Heart of Dakota, we love studied dictation! Starting with Bigger Hearts for His Glory, we include multiple levels of dictation passages. Though Charlotte Mason advocated dictation be taken directly from a literature passage being studied, we use the Charlotte Mason method of studied dictation while still progressing systematically through passages that gradually increase in difficulty. The dictation passages we use come from an old dictation book that was the standard for teaching spelling in bygone years!

In Closing…

In closing, through studied dictation, we teach children the skills of capturing a correct mental image of a string of words, auditorily hearing the sentence and repeating it back correctly, writing the words in the correct sequence (including all punctuation and capitalization), and proofreading and correcting their work to make sure the right mental image remains (rather than the wrong one). Over time, these skills transfer to students carefully proofreading their own written work in other subjects, which is exactly what we want!  Heart of Dakota’s guides include plans to help you implement Charlotte Mason’s studied dictation methods successfully in your homeschooling, and that’s “More Than a Charlotte Mason Moment” to enjoy!!!

In Christ,
Julie

 

 

Oral Narrations: An Integral Part of a Charlotte Mason Education

More Than a Charlotte Mason Moment

Oral narrations are an integral part of a Charlotte Mason education!

A Charlotte Mason education is literature-based and full of living books that you just can’t put down!  Think about the best book you’ve ever read. As you were reading it, if you were asked to respond to it each day, would you have delightedly chosen to take a pop quiz about it with fill-in-the-blank, true/false, or multiple choice questions? Or, would you have much rather just told a friend about it, sharing all you remembered in a narrative way? Chances are, you’d prefer to tell someone about it over taking a quiz.  Even if you happen to be a rare quiz-loving person, which response would you be more likely to remember? Good books are meant to be shared, and Charlotte Mason knew that when they are shared, they are remembered – long after any quickly forgotten quiz. That is why oral narrations are an integral part of a Charlotte Mason education.

A Charlotte Mason education is based on using narration as the primary method of comprehension.

When children orally narrate, they tell back in their own words what they have just read or heard. Oral narration allows children to share their own version of the passage with accuracy, individual personality, spirit, and originality. In Charlotte Mason-style narration, children borrow words from the author to retell the story.  Narrations are often lengthy and detailed, and there is no “one right” answer or certain key points that “should be” in the narration. This is the way the child connects to and makes sense of the reading. Children can often give a candid heartfelt oral narration on a book they read years earlier, simply because they remember it so well due to having narrated upon it. A Charlotte Mason education is based on using narration as the primary method of comprehension because it is so effective.

Heart of Dakota’s guides include helpful tips for both the teacher and the student before, during, and after orally narrating.

Chances are, you didn’t grow up orally narrating in school, and more than likely, you’d love a little guidance in this area. Well, Heart of Dakota provides that! Each year Carrie wrote a new Heart of Dakota guide, she pulled out Charlotte Mason’s original volumes and reread all that pertained to the upcoming stages of learning students were entering. The result? Decades of Charlotte Mason research at your disposal right within your Heart of Dakota guides. Beginning with modeling oral narrations and moving to helpful tips for both teacher and student before, during, and after orally narrating – HOD has you covered. Likewise beginning with simple narrations and moving to detailed, summary, key word, highlighted, topic, opinion, persuasive, recorded, and typed narrations – HOD makes sure oral narrations grow and mature as your children do!

Narrating is an essential skill life.

Narrating is an essential skill in life.  To be able to give an opinion of a book, relay a telephone message, summarize a letter, give driving directions, write an article, or share a doctor’s instructions – are all examples of practical applications of narration skills.  Narrating is an important skill to learn.  You can begin to teach your children to narrate by following the steps in Heart of Dakota’s guides.  Just be patient, and have fun with it!  Narration is a way of life you will surely learn to love!

In Closing

In closing, here are a few Charlotte Mason quotes about narration for you to take inspiration from…

A narration should be original as it comes from the child- that is, his own mind should have acted on the matter it has received. – Charlotte Mason

Narrating is an art, like poetry-making or painting, because it is there, in every child’s mind, waiting to be discovered, and is not the result of any process of disciplinary education. – Charlotte Mason

In Christ,

Julie

 

 

 

Invite Charlotte Mason’s Teaching Methods into Your Own Home with Heart of Dakota

More Than a Charlotte Mason Moment

Invite Charlotte Mason into your own home with Heart of Dakota!

At Heart of Dakota we ‘met’ Charlotte Mason more than several decades ago when Carrie began homeschooling her oldest son. The more we researched and practiced Charlotte Mason’s teaching methods in our own homes, the more we became convinced her methods deserved to be brought to life in other homes as well. Her breakthrough educational philosophy was just too good not to share! And so began Carrie’s 20-year journey of writing Heart of Dakota’s guides! With a dedication to bringing Charlotte Mason’s teaching methods to life, Carrie created Heart of Dakota’s guides so you too can ‘meet’ her in a very doable, inspirational way!  At Heart of Dakota, we help you invite Charlotte Mason into your own home, so you too can say, “Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life.” (Charlotte Mason)

Meeting Ms. Mason in Heart of Dakota’s Guides

Charlotte Mason’s key teaching methods come to life in Heart of Dakota’s guides. Each day you and your children use Heart of Dakota, you will be meeting Ms. Mason and inviting her into your homeschooling with easy-to-use daily plans. Step-by-step, year after year, from guide to guide, Heart of Dakota’s plans introduce your children to Charlotte Mason’s key educational principles and ideas. Little by little, children learn to love literature, love the Lord, and love their learning, just as Charlotte Mason intended.  So, just how will you be inviting Charlotte Mason into your home with Heart of Dakota? Let us show you how as we describe each facet of her educational philosophy and how it is brought to life in Heart of Dakota!

Living Books 

You cannot ‘meet’ Charlotte Mason if you do not use living books. Charlotte Mason had a passion for literature that Carrie shares! With the utmost care and loving research, Carrie carefully chooses living books for each and every subject area.  Like Charlotte Mason, Carrie’s living book choices are narratively written in a conversational way by an author who is passionate about what he or she has written. “Living” books make learning ‘come alive.’ They are the opposite of encyclopedias and textbooks, which are often written in a less than conversational way by a team of people who more than likely are not all that passionate about what they are writing.  In contrast, living books pull you into a subject and make you want to read more. They are the books you cannot put down!

In Heart of Dakota, your children will enjoy living books each and every day in a way that will make them want to read more. Living books light a passion for reading in our children, and Heart of Dakota keeps that passion for learning with literature alive year after year!  Join us in our next “More Than a Charlotte Mason Moment” series, as we describe more key principles of Charlotte Mason’s teaching methods and how they are incorporated into Heart of Dakota!

In Christ,

Julie

Meet Charlotte Mason

More Than a Charlotte Mason Moment

Meet Charlotte Mason

Let us take a moment to meet Charlotte Mason, and in doing so, gain inspiration and direction for homeschooling our own precious children! Charlotte Mason was born in England in 1842 on New Year’s Day. Her father was a Liverpool merchant, a simple but refined man who was very fond of books.  Both of Charlotte’s parents loved to educate her. As only children themselves, teaching  Charlotte, their only daughter, was a special joy.  Unfortunately, Charlotte’s mother died when Charlotte was just 16. Her grief-stricken father died the following year. Suddenly alone in the world, Charlotte lived with friends until at 18, she moved to London. She enrolled in the only training college available to teachers in England at the time.  From these difficult beginnings, Charlotte rose to become an advocate of parents as educators for their children.

Heart of Dakota – Inspired by Charlotte Mason

Heart of Dakota is inspired by Charlotte Mason, and it is our family’s hope that you will be too!  So many  educational cornerstones of Charlotte Mason’s approach to education form the foundation of Heart of Dakota’s approach to learning.  It is no surprise to me that an orphaned young daughter would grasp the importance of the education parents could give their children and long for it herself.  We believe this too.  Through Charlotte Mason’s approach to learning, we find we as parents can hopefully give something Charlotte’s parents could not – an education provided by loving parents that carries our children to adulthood. 

Education is an atmosphere!

“By the saying, ‘education is an atmosphere,’ it is not meant that a child should be isolated in what may be called a ‘child environment,’ especially adapted and prepared; but that we should take into account the educational value of his natural home atmosphere, both as regards persons and things, and should let him live freely among his proper conditions.  (Mason 1923: preface).

I think Charlotte longed for her childhood days of her parents lovingly creating a home atmosphere for education.  It was powerful to her, because she once had it and lost it.  She spent her life trying to help parents create this atmosphere of education within the home setting – perhaps because she longed for it herself.  We long for this ourselves as parents, and we also long for it for you, as fellow homeschool parents.  Hence, Heart of Dakota.

A dream dreamed, from an orphaned child, coming to fruition through you!

I believe Charlotte Mason was a strong woman whose difficulties in life brought about a newfound respect for the once well-respected old adage that parents are the best teachers for their children.  Parents love their children as no others could. They are invested in their future, and there is no ‘passing on’ of the children to a new teacher. The parent is the teacher. She knows her children well, and she has a heart full of love and hope and fortitude to see them through to be the best they can be.

I like to think we as homeschool parents have the love and hope and fortitude for our children Charlotte’s parents surely had for her.  Only, Lord willing, perhaps we will be blessed enough to journey on this home education road a little longer.  I believe this was an orphaned child’s dream, and it can come to fruition through you. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be introducing Charlotte Mason to you as she makes her presence known in Heart of Dakota. I hope you take as much inspiration in meeting her this way as I have.

In Christ,

Julie