Help your child build the habit of proofreading!

Teaching Tip:

Help your child build the habit of proofreading!

When a child reaches Creation to Christ (and the guides that come after it), it is time to work on proofreading. Typically, proofreading does not come naturally to children. This means it is a skill that must be practiced in order for it to become a habit.

How can you build the habit of proofreading?

To help ingrain the habit of proofreading, have your child read his written narrations out loud to you. As your child reads the narration aloud, have him pause and correct any mistakes he notices right away.

Don’t be surprised if your little honey reads right past his mistakes. If so, gently stop him and point out obvious mistakes that should be caught when reading aloud what was written. Some examples of obvious mistakes include the following: a word written twice, an omitted word, a lack of punctuation, an important letter missing within a word, or a problem in grammar or usage.

After your child has read the narration aloud, you should read the passage out loud next. As you read, guide your child in correcting any remaining errors in spelling, capitalization, or punctuation.

Use your child’s written narrations to build the habit of proofreading.

Written narrations are scheduled weekly in each of our guides from Preparing Hearts on up. This schedule makes the weekly written narration a perfect forum to practice good proofreading habits! Practice proofreading together each week, and you’ll eventually see the fruit of this exercise. Your child will begin to automatically read aloud and proof his narrations prior to handing them in to you. Having a weekly expectation for proofreading starts to establish a pattern for proofreading work.

Try this method for proofreading once each week using your child’s written narration.

Practice this method for proofreading with your child each week. I think you’ll see a new habit begin to slowly form as the years pass! I know this method has worked with all three of our older sons, and we’re already seeing progress with our fourth son too. Try it, and see what you think!

Blessings,
Carrie

PS: For a way to begin teaching this skill to younger students in Bigger Hearts and Preparing Hearts, have a look at this blog post!

Spelling Help for a Struggling Speller in Bigger Hearts

 Dear Carrie

What should I do to help my son with spelling in the second half of Bigger Hearts?

Dear Carrie,

I am getting ready to start the second half of Bigger with my 8 1/2 yr old son. This will be his “3rd grade” year. He is still struggling with spelling, and therefore, does not write sentences yet. This is something I really want to work on before starting Preparing. I’ve not used the spelling lists in our Bigger manual. Instead, I used an outside spelling curriculum and just didn’t see much results. I wish I would have just done the spelling in Bigger! Now, I don’t know how to proceed. Should I start with the word lists in Bigger and go from there? Or, what do you think? I am open to suggestions!

Sincerely,

“Ms. Please Help My Son with Spelling”

Dear “Ms. Please Help My Son with Spelling,”

I’d definitely encourage you to follow the plans for spelling in Bigger the last half of the guide. I had a total mind shift in spelling when I read Charlotte Mason’s advice on the topic. Spelling in the early years is often quite tied to a child’s reading. This is because kiddos at the early stages of spelling are often sounding out their spelling words as they write them. So, in the early years, as your child’s reading progresses, his spelling will lag a bit behind that reading progress. That is not to say that in the long haul spelling and reading progress are always linked. That is not necessarily true, as spelling words get longer and harder.

Rather than more drill, regular practice in capturing the correct mental image of a word is the skill to develop.

Another thing to keep in mind is that for kiddos to whom spelling does not come naturally more drill is not really what they need. Regular practice in capturing the correct mental image of a word is the skill that truly needs to be developed in order for the mind to know whether a word that has been written is written correctly. This is the skill that is being developed in Beyond and Bigger. It is also one of the reasons why the other writing the child is doing during that season of learning is kept to copywork or copying from a correctly written model, because we don’t want the mind capturing the incorrect image.

To prevent the incorrect spelling of words beginning to “look right,” immediately erase incorrectly spelled words and copy the correct spelling instead.

Having a child inventively spell many words results in the incorrect spelling beginning to “look right” in the mind’s eye. So, to prevent this same thing from happening during spelling lessons, be sure to immediately erase any incorrectly spelled word and have the child copy the correct spelling over top of the erased word instead. Think of spelling time as mental training rather than seeking memorization of specific words. In that way, every error is an opportunity to swoop in and retrain the mind.

When an incorrect letter is written, erase it. Then, show the correct image written in black on the white index card.

Be vigilant as you do the Heart of Dakota spelling lessons. As soon as an incorrect letter is written in the spelling of a word, erase it away and redirect to the correct image (showing the index card with the correct spelling upon it). Be sure to use a dark colored marker on a white index card too when writing the spelling words (as directed in the guide), which helps the mind capture the image of the word even more clearly. Over time you will see continued progress.

Doing spelling words like this is so effective because dictation is this same mental imaging taken to the next level.

Dictation builds on the foundation of mental picturing that is practiced in the spelling lists in Beyond and Bigger. It is where kiddos actually start to pay more attention to spelling in the context of sentences. It’s the moment where they realize spelling is about writing a string of words correctly. It is mental imaging taken to the next level. This is often where kiddos start doing a bit better in spelling, if they had a hard time in the word lists that they did before beginning dictation. This is because in dictation they are putting to use the mental imaging and beginning proofreading and auditory skills they practiced in Beyond and Bigger and are applying them.

Studied dictation skills transfer to proofreading written work well.

Through studied dictation kiddos learn to transfer 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 kiddos’ proofreading their own written work in other subjects. You can see this is all a part of spelling, but it is a process that takes years to internalize.

Instead of putting the focus on memorization, place the focus on writing correctly and proofreading carefully.

This is why I encourage you to keep on going, patiently guiding and diligently correcting. You will see progress as the years pass. Just make sure not to put the focus on word memorization! Rather, place the focus on the ultimate long-term goal of writing correctly and proofreading in daily work.

My own son who struggled with spelling has now shown much improvement.

My own third little guy struggled with the spelling lists in Beyond and Bigger too. He improved as he headed into dictation, even though he is not natural speller. In CTC he really started to show some carryover and improvement in his daily written work. He has now learned to refer back to his reading material to copy the correct spelling of words within his written narrations. This is another moment where capturing the correct mental image of words (i.e. names and places) and transferring them to paper in written narrations comes in handy. I share this to encourage you that over time with these methods, even kiddos who struggle with spelling will make gains in the area where it really counts.

Blessings,

Carrie

Reading is not spelling

A Charlotte Mason Moment:

“Accustom him from the first to shut his eyes and spell the word he has made. This is important. Reading is not spelling, nor is it necessary to spell in order to read well; but the good speller is the child whose eye is quick enough to take in the letters which compose it, in the act of reading off a word; and this is a habit to be acquired from the first: accustom him to see the letters in the word, and he will do so without effort.”

(Home Education by Charlotte M. Vol. 1, p. 203)

Do your children visualize words on their “mental blackboards”?

Teaching Tip:

Do you have a child working on spelling or studied dictation?

Is your child working through the spelling lists in Beyond or Bigger Hearts? Or, is your child working through the studied dictation passages in the guides that come next? Either way, today’s teaching tip is for you!

Visualizing words on a mental blackboard is one key Charlotte Mason skill for spelling.

One of the skills we are working toward is for the child to be able to visualize words on his/her mental blackboard. Capturing the correct spelling of a word is much easier if the word really stands out in a way that the mind can quickly “capture.”

Using a black marker on a white surface helps the mind “capture” the word.

Whenever you have to write a word for your child to visualize, it is good to use a black marker on a white surface. This can be a black marker on a white index card like the spelling cards for Beyond or Bigger Hearts. Or, the same technique works for words you may desire your child to focus on within the dictation passages. These words can be written on a whiteboard with a black marker for the child to study prior to having the passage dictated.

Tracing difficult words using a black pencil on a white page helps students “capture” the word too.

Another technique that works is to have the child trace any difficult words within the dictation passage using his/her black pencil. Having the words outlined in black on the white page helps kiddos mentally “capture” the word too! Try these tips and see if they help your child with spelling and dictation. I know these tips have helped mine!

Carrie

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