Dictation skills help in many areas of your child’s schooling!
One of my absolute favorite Charlotte Mason-style teaching strategies is the way she uses studied dictation. This is because studied dictation encompasses so many skills within a short session.
What skills are included within a studied dictation lesson?
Before the dictating begins, studying the passage first encourages students to picture correct spelling and punctuation on their mental blackboards. As the passage is dictated, students hone their auditory and verbal skills as they listen and repeat the passage before writing. Correcting their own passage by checking it against a correctly written model practices proofreading skills. Immediately fixing any mistakes means errors in spelling take less root in the child’s mind. Repeating a missed passage once daily until it is written correctly helps students replace an incorrect model with a correct model in their mind. Through the studied dictation process, your children are learning spelling, grammar, and punctuation skills too.
How can you help your children carry dictation skills over into their written work?
Once your children are making progress in dictation, it is time to begin helping them carry these skills over to their written work. One easy way to help students do this is to begin having them read aloud to you anything they write for school. As they read aloud what they have written, they will begin to catch some very noticeable mistakes. These obvious mistakes usually include missing words, double words, or very long run-on sentences with no punctuation. As students read aloud their written work, it is important that you are next to them with your pencil in hand. As they read, gently point out a few things to add. Often these things include missing words, periods, capital letters, commas, and question marks.
How can you address incorrect spelling in written work?
After your child has read aloud his written work, go back and write in pencil the correct spelling above any word that needs fixing. Then, have your child erase the incorrect word, copy your correct spelling in its place, and then erase your word (leaving a clean copy). If you do this regularly, your child will start to notice errors more and more on his own.
Proofreading takes training.
Proofreading takes training, just like anything else. It doesn’t happen naturally. One side note of this process is that you may see the volume of your child’s writing decline for awhile. This is alright, as it is honestly better to produce less quantity that is well-done than volumes written poorly. So, try having your child read aloud his writing today, and let the training begin!
Know your goal…exposure or mastery?
As you teach younger children, it helps to remember this is often their first exposure to many concepts. Everything ranging from history to math to reading will be new. So to expect mastery of new concepts, or even terrific retention, at such a young age is a tall order.
How can you help young children be successful with school?
Instead with younger kiddos, strive for the following goals:
- Keep the lessons short.
- Keep the day moving along.
- Keep your expectations in line with your child’s age.
Resist the urge to add extra drill and practice beyond what is in the guide.
Often as parents, we think more practice is better. The Internet makes it easy to add extra practice with little effort. However, is this truly necessary for your child to gain exposure to a subject? If you add too much to the guide, your children may feel their school day is too long. You may also find that the extra practice crowds out time for the rest of the subjects in the guide. There is a careful balance between enough practice and too much! Your Heart of Dakota guide is designed with this careful balance in mind.
Young children make great gains when you least expect it.
Children will make great gains and strides in their younger years. These gains often come unexpectedly after steady progress forward pays off. Take heart even if your little ones don’t seem to be “getting” everything you’d love them to take from the HOD guide. They will surprise you as the year passes in unexpected ways!
PS: In this blog post, we looked at how to enjoy your homeschool life by simplifying your school day. To find out more ways you can enjoy your homeschool life while using our guides, check out the blog post linked below!
Enjoy Your Everyday Heart of Dakota Life
Each HOD guide has a pattern that becomes familiar.
Each HOD guide is designed with a pattern that is meant to become familiar to your students. As the pattern becomes familiar, your students will know more clearly what is expected and what is required to complete assignments.
Knowing a guide’s pattern shortens work times.
Knowing the guide’s pattern and expectations helps your students do assignments in less time. As students move through the guide, the school day typically becomes shorter. This is simply because the students have gotten the routine down!
As the guide progresses, your days will flow better, be shorter, and require less of you.
If you are starting a new guide that seems a bit challenging right now, don’t lose heart! If your child is well-placed in his/her guide, you will see improvement as your child progresses through the year. Your days will flow better, be shorter, and require less of you. When you draw near to the end of your official “school year” you’ll be surprised at how “easy” the guide seems.
One benefit of the guide’s pattern is a shorter school day!
A shortened school day as the year progresses is a huge blessing. Often the shortened days come at a time when many teachers (and students) are running out of steam. To see my boys clipping through their day and knowing what is expected is a joy! I pray it will be a blessing to you to see your kiddos finish strong and confident as well!
Take time to prioritize.
Today’s teaching tip is all about priorities. If you’re like me, you might get a bit overwhelmed with the tasks that lie ahead in the coming school year. This is why it helps to set priorities before your year begins.
Define your main priorities for each child.
As you look at each child, define your main priorities for that child for the upcoming year. This isn’t as difficult as it sounds! Simply ask yourself which areas each child needs to work on the most. Then, pick one to three areas to focus on for the upcoming year.
What are some areas where a child might need help?
Through the years we’ve had a variety of areas in which our boys needed work. Sometimes we had a child who needed to strengthen reading skills. Other times a child needed work on math facts or being neater in math. Some years we focused on legibility in handwriting. Other years we focused on character issues. At times a child really needed to gain independence. Or, maybe studied dictation was an area needing attention. There were years where we needed to do better on projects and following directions. These are just a few areas we’ve worked on over the years. Hopefully, this list will get you thinking of areas where your child needs work.
Make a plan for how to focus on your priorities.
Once you’ve decided a few key areas where each child needs work, make a plan for how to focus on those areas. This can be as simple as committing to be by your child’s side as he/she works on a difficult subject. It can mean allowing an extra 10 minutes a day in your schedule to oversee or teach a tough area. Making it a goal to check your child’s work daily in a specific area is another way to achieve your priorities. Being willing to pause what you are doing to deal with character issues might be an option. Assigning a child who is strong in a subject to work with a child who is weak in that subject is another solution.
Be careful not to over-emphasize your priorities.
It is easy to think we need to major on our areas of priority. For example, if spelling is a priority, you may be tempted to rush out and buy a rigorous spelling program. Yet, the solution could be as simple as committing to doing studied dictation daily from the HOD guide. As you consider solutions, be sure not to add more work to what is already in the HOD guide. Otherwise, you will just add time to your day and neglect other key areas. Instead, let your HOD guide work for you!
Use your HOD guide as a tool to help you accomplish your priorities.
As you look at accomplishing your priorities, use your HOD guide as a tool to help you. Focus on a few key areas that will aid you in accomplishing your priorities. Maybe your child needs to read a certain assignment box aloud to you daily to focus on following directions. Perhaps your artistic older child does the projects with your less artistic younger child. Maybe you focus on legibility in handwriting every time a written narration comes up. Perhaps you work on independence in one key box of plans first and build on that. Or, maybe you commit to being present and helping with math.
Work on your priorities briefly each day.
Simply pick one or two times a day to work briefly on your priorities. Brief consistent work pays off. Try it and see if setting priorities helps you! You may be pleasantly surprised.
There are few “normal” days of homeschooling.
One thing I am discovering as I am getting older is there are few “normal” days of homeschooling. Life is often filled with unexpected surprises. The further we travel down life’s path, health and medical issues are bound to crop up. Issues may arise within our own families, our extended families, or both. This is just a part of living in a sinful world where our bodies break down with the passing of time. What a glorious blessing that the earth is not our eternal home and our bodies will one day be made new again!
Let your HOD guide be a help during uncertain times.
With the fragility of health in mind, it is a huge blessing the HOD guides have all your planning done. I am thankful the guides are truly open-and-go. For instance, in 2018, we really put the open-and-go claim to the test! Our son Greyson struggled with his health and was in and out of the hospital 160+ days. Since we never knew when we would have to head to the hospital, often there was no time to prepare. With the specialty hospital 4 hours away, we had a myriad of teachers come and go to help at home. Both grandmas took a turn teaching. Our older sons alternated teaching with working on their college classes. Some days my sister taught our youngest son along with her own boys. Many days we had to have our sons do as much as they could on their own. Upon our return, we picked up where the other teachers left off and jumped right back in. Even with all sorts of teachers popping in to do different parts, we went forward with our HOD guides in hand. The guides were a constant “normal” in our ever-changing days.
What should you do if a situation of duress arises?
So, what should you do when a situation of duress arises? If the situation is short lived, it makes sense to downshift and do whatever you must. If the situation is longer term, the advice we most often hear is to shift down to doing only the 3R’s. Yet, doing only the 3R’s leaves a houseful of kids who still need something to do all day. So in our situation, we decided to go forward with our HOD guides even if we were limping through. Of course there are extreme situations, where downshifting to the basics makes sense. Just be sure to watch so this doesn’t become the norm.
Let your HOD guide provide needed structure to your days.
In times of duress, let the pattern of the HOD guides give your school days some normalcy. Your kids will recognize and take comfort in the pattern, even if you aren’t there. Don’t spend precious time thinking of how to cut back, shift, change, add, adapt, or subtract from the HOD guide. Instead, just teach the guide “as is” and progress steadily forward day by day. Let the guide provide needed structure in the good times and the tough times. Try it, and you may find (as I have) that you are actually relieved to have the guides drive your days.