Is answering questions an important skill? Or, can we replace it with narrating?

Dear Carrie

If my daughter narrates better than she answers questions, should I focus on improving her skill of properly answering questions, or should I let her narrate instead?

We are reading Tornado from the Emerging Reader’s Set. I’ll ask my daughter the follow up questions, and she will often not know the answers. She’ll ask if she can narrate instead. Then, she’ll give a beautiful oral narration. She’s like this with Bible too. She can almost never answer the questions in Bigger Hearts for His Glory‘s Bible study. She does have auditory processing and visual perception issues. I don’t know if that could be at play. So, if my daughter narrates better than she answers questions, should I let her narrate instead?

Sincerely,

“Ms. Please Help Me Decide If I Should Let Her Narrate or Focus on the Skill of Answering Questions Better”

Dear “Ms. Please Help Me Decide If I Should Let Her Narrate or Focus on the Skill of Answering Questions Better,”

Let me begin by saying it is wonderful that your daughter is able to narrate well! I’ll also share that it isn’t uncommon for kiddos to have an inclination toward either narrations or answering questions. This is because each type of assignment appeals to a different type of learner and requires a different thought process. Questions often have the expectation of one right answer, whereas narration allows kiddos to choose to share what they took from the story and focus on that. Narration is more open-ended. Both types of assignments are important to do, as different skills are learned.

Some learners prefer to answer questions with one right answer, while other learners prefer to give more open-ended narrations.

So, as we look at learners who are more comfortable in knowing exactly what to do and how to do it, and who thrive on one right answer, we can see that questions will appeal to these types of children. On the other hand, as we look at kiddos who are more free-flowing through their day, who do not like to be restricted, and who enjoy creativity, we can see that narrations will appeal to these types of children.

If children struggle with answering questions, you can let them know the questions prior to reading.

In looking at the challenges the questions are providing for your daughter, it would help for your child to know the questions prior to reading. Just be aware that sharing the questions prior to reading, will put your child’s focus wholly on finding the answers to those questions as she reads. So, if you shift gears and then ask her to narrate after reading she may be lost.

As children move through Heart of Dakota’s guides, they eventually improve and learn to work well within their weaker area.

Usually as kiddos travel through Heart of Dakota, they eventually get to the point where they learn to work within their weaker area well. This means that kiddos that weren’t born narrators can learn to narrate well. Likewise, kiddos who have a tough time answering questions can learn to excel in that area too. It just takes time, often years! So, be encouraged that while a processing disorder may definitely play a role in how quickly a child progresses in a weak area, all kiddos will have some struggles in any area that does not come naturally to their learning and personality style. As always, when we are pondering a child’s learning progress, it is hard to know where an actual disorder ends and where the diversity of a “typical” childhood personality or learning-style begins.

Blessings,

Carrie

Composition is…an integral part of their education

A Charlotte Mason Moment:

“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 [sic] of Asgard’: in fact, Composition is not an adjunct but an integral part of their education in every subject.”

(Home Education by Charlotte M., Vol. 6, p. 192)

Dictation skills help in many areas of your child’s schooling!

Teaching Tip:

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!

Blessings,

Carrie

Summer is the time to develop habits, set routines, and practice skills!

Teaching Tip:

Make the best of the time you have left before school begins.

Do you feel the lazy days of summer beginning to wane? Are you getting closer to the official start of the school year? If so, this week’s tip encourages you to make the best of the time you have left before school begins again.

Begin developing habits, setting routines, and doing some skill practice.

The end of summer is a terrific time to take a couple of weeks to ease into the school year. It is a time to begin developing habits, setting routines, and doing some skill practice. So, here are a few ideas for each of these areas!

What are few habits to begin developing?

Habits take awhile to form, so why not begin now before the busy school schedule begins? I will just mention a few habits we need to work on at our house. Hopefully, this will get you thinking about habits you could work on with your children. Maybe your children need to work on basic habits like teeth brushing or making their beds. Perhaps your kiddos need to set a regular wake time to get up each morning. Or, maybe your kiddos need to work toward getting to bed a bit earlier in preparation for school. It could be that the habit of first-time obedience has fallen by the wayside and needs to be picked up again. There are so many habits worth developing. Simply pick the ones that bother you most and begin!

Which routines are worth putting in place?

Routines help school move along much more quickly. It is worth taking a few moments before school begins to see if you have needed routines in place. I always take a few weeks to ponder my routines for things like laundry, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and chores. If I don’t have a good routine for each of these areas, our school day can quickly derail. Check your own routines in these areas to see if they need tweaking. It will be worth it once school begins!

How do I decide which skills are worth practicing?

Skill practice doesn’t have to be time-consuming to work! As you prepare for the school year, perhaps there are a few skills that it would be wise to begin practicing now. Skills like math fact practice can be done in a just a few minutes a day. It can be as easy as having your child whip through a set of flashcards or practice an online fact practice game. Typing is another area that benefits from a refresher. Typing Instructor is great for typing practice. We have our kiddos practice 10- 15 minutes a day in the summer. Sustained silent reading is another easy area to practice. We have our kiddos read silently for 30 minutes a day. They can read on their own or at bedtime. You can even join your children and read your own book silently as they read to be sure it gets done!

Pick and choose a few areas that need work.

Rather than trying to work on everything, pick a few areas that bother you the most. Begin with those areas first. Be sure not to overwhelm either you or your children with too much at once. Just pick a few key areas. You can always work on the other areas as school gets underway.

Blessings,
Carrie

“Reading lessons must be short; ten minutes or a quarter of an hour of fixed attention is enough…”

A Charlotte Mason Moment: 

“The power of reading with perfect attention will not be gained by the child who is allowed to moon over his lessons. For this reason, reading lessons must be short; ten minutes or a quarter of an hour of fixed attention is enough for children of the ages we have in view, and a lesson of this length will enable a child to cover two or three pages of his book. The same rule as to the length of a lesson applies to children whose lessons are read to them because they are not yet able to read for themselves.”

(Home Education by Charlotte M. Mason Vol. 1, p. 230)

 

The Habit of Attention