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!
As your year progresses, are your children becoming more comfortable with their HOD guides?
As the school year progresses, I am reminded of a tip that is helpful as children get further along in their guides. This tip is especially targeted at students in Little Hearts for His Glory through Preparing Hearts for His Glory. As your kiddos travel through their guides, they will become comfortable with the patterns in their particular guides. They will begin to instinctively “know” what to do when they come to certain parts of their day. As your children’s comfort levels rise, they are ready for more of a challenge.
How can you challenge your child to take a more active role in his learning?
When your child seems comfortable with the guide, it is time to start letting him take a more active role in his learning. One easy way to do this is to allow your child to look at the daily plans and get out his own materials. Once your child excels at getting out his own materials, move on to letting your child read directions from the guide.
Allow your child to read directions right from the guide.
Allowing your child to read directions right from the guide helps him prepare for the learning coming that day. Reading directly from the guide is also great preparation for what is coming in future guides too. Future guides begin labeling boxes in the plans as ‘T’ = Teacher Directed, ‘S’ = Semi-Independent, and ‘I’ = Independent. As your child matures, the move toward more independence will be encouraged and expected.
Allowing your students to read directly from the guide has many benefits.
Reading directly from the guide allows students to become more self-propelled learners. It also allows students to take more responsibility and ownership for what they are learning! So, once your students are ready, start letting them read directly from the guide. Begin with only one or two boxes at a time. See what a change you notice as your children enjoy taking ownership of their learning.
With growing independence comes greater accountability.
Just be careful that you don’t let your children’s new ownership nudge you out of too many areas! It is still important to oversee and check each part of your children’s school work. Accountability becomes even more important with independence.
A Charlotte Mason Moment:
“Mathematics depend upon the teacher rather than upon the textbook and few subjects are worse taught ; chiefly because teachers have seldom time to give the inspiring ideas … which should quicken imagination.”
(Home Education by Charlotte M. Vol. 1, p. 233)
What is one way to ease writing frustrations?
Do your kiddos get frustrated or weary with writing? As the school year is underway, I am reminded of an important tool I use often to ease writing frustrations. We use a 9″ x 12″ dry-erase lapboard and dry erase marker regularly throughout our school day. Writing on a markerboard is a welcome change from writing with a pencil on paper. Lapboards are easy to erase and can be written on much larger than on regular paper. Using a lapboard also helps kiddos focus on a small portion of writing at a time.
How does using a markerboard help ease writing frustrations during math?
Think of some of the frustrations that come with math time. Rushing through problems, making silly mistakes, feeling overwhelmed with too many problems, and messy writing are frustrations that spring to mind. Using a markerboard and a dry erase marker to do the textbook problems can really help with many of the math frustrations. On a markerboard, kiddos can see the problem written larger and have more room to work. They get a break from using a pencil and are able to write larger. They can erase mistakes easily and focus on only one problem at a time. My boys love flashing the markerboard to me, so I can check it quickly. Then, they love erasing the markerboard in a flash after I tell them they have the problem right!
What other subjects work well on a markerboard?
Using a markerboard and a dry erase marker to diagram sentences can really help with grammar frustrations. Diagramming goes quickly on a markerboard, plus it is very visual representation! Having your child write spelling words or studied dictation passages on a markerboard works great too. Writing Drawn into the Heart of Reading responses on a markerboard for your child to copy later is another great use. Listing writing ideas as your child brainstorms them for writing sessions works well too. Writing a numbered lists of school tasks for your child to check off as he works independently is another way we use a markerboard.
Try using a markerboard to make writing more fun.
Once you begin thinking of ways to use a markerboard during your school day, you will find endless uses for it. So try this great tool today! See if it helps ease writing frustrations and make writing more fun at your house. I know it has at mine!
Does your child waste time during math?
As I’ve been thinking about math these last few weeks, I wanted to share a tip that is really needed in this area. The tip is what Charlotte Mason so eloquently refers to as “not letting a child become stupid over his lessons.” In modern day terms, this equates to not letting a child daydream, stare into space, or waste time over his lesson. As parents it is our job to be there during subjects that lead to much wasted time. This is especially true for subjects that can be linked to long pauses between working moments. Math is one of those subjects.
How can you help your child stay focused during math time?
Partnering with your child to talk through math problems is a great way to keep your child focused. Discussing how to solve the problems will keep your child interacting with the text. Pointing out errors immediately and helping your child fix mistakes before they are repeated will move your math time along quickly. Leaving a child to work on his own often means the math lesson will go on much longer than needed! It also means your child could become really frustrated by the lack of forward motion or the sheer volume of problems to be completed.
Staying nearby to help is an easy way to keep math time productive.
Stay nearby to keep math sessions focused and productive. If you catch your child wasting time and staring into space, it often means he needs you to help and redirect. Watch your child during math, and if he “becomes stupid over his lessons,” jump in and move it along. Try this tip and see if your day goes better! I know my days go better when I keep this tip in mind.