Hi, I am in need of some advice in writing. A little history, this is our 2nd year homeschooling. Dd10 and Dd7 have attended a private school since K, that used Abeka. Our first year we tried Abeka which did not work out. So we really spent our first year trying to figure out what works for us. We love CM and are slowly mixing some of the ideas into our school this year. However, to my main problem, dd10 seems to be behind in writing (composition). Although she is very creative, she is really lacking in structure and organization of her thoughts. Will copywork be enough for this child? We just began Rod and Staff English 5 which we do mostly orally. There are writing assignments in there but not enough. So what program would you all recommend or do I need one? Any advice would be great! Thanks!
really need advice in writing!(23 posts) (10 voices)
No, copywork alone is not enough. Are you doing oral narration? That would be my next suggestion. If you are doing oral narration, now is the time to begin to mix in some written narrations. Narration is what gives structure and organization to thoughts, the process of doing that over the years. There is where you will want to start. I would not teach any other composition until written narrations are coming easily to her.
I usually scale back on copywork when we begin dictation. Are you doing studied dictation?
OK. If she can write fluently with every detail from memory, she's ready for some "narration missions"
You might want to model these sorts of things for her first, but occasionally instead of a straight, plain narration, have her do something like this:
Write the MOST important events/points in this reading.
Describe this character.
If you had to tell someone about this in just FIVE (or four or whatever) sentences, what would you say?
If you were reporting this event/story for the news, what would you write?
List the five (or however many or few you want) events from this reading in order.
Then, when she can do these fairly well, graduate her to "advanced" narration missions:
Compare Character X and Character Y--how are they the same? How are they different?
Ask for some evaluations/judgments of the events/characters. Are they Biblical? Why or why not?
What do you think this character SHOULD have done?
Write an editorial for an imaginary newspaper, telling why this person/event is good/bad (use quotes/examples)
When she can do these sorts of things fairly well, you may want to give more detailed essay preparation--which is what narration missions are practice for. I usually don't do that until about 12 or so, but I have all boys and I've heard girls can accomplish this sort of thing sooner. :-) Also, keep an eye out for types of writing that show these things--perhaps watch for simple news stories of events in your town that might interest her, or editorials that cover things she might know about or be interested in. Don't make her read detailed political or economic analyses yet, lol. Look for things she might know about or have opinions about. Discuss whether the person did a good or bad writing job. (In my newspaper, it's usually bad!)
You can just mix some of these sorts of things in now, and add more by all means. In fact, there is a list of things like this in one of the Charlotte Mason volumes, and if I had a few extra minutes I'd hunt it up. Maybe someone else will, I know Sonya has quoted the same passage and she usually knows where these things are faster than I do.
Thank you sooooooo much! These ideas are great and exactly what I was needing. To answer your questions about dictation, we were doing this. However, I was very concerned about her spelling abilities and allowed myself to be swayed away to another method. After much frustration and very little improvemen,t we are starting again with studied dictation. I am going to use Spelling Wisdom. I will begin to implement some of your ideas ASAP. I will let you know how it goes. ALso, you should really take the advice listed above and think of putting some sort of help guide together!!! Thanks again,
I am with the original poster about writing, spelling, etc. I do see how important copywork, narration and dictation are, but am not sure how to best go about using these methods.
I have read basic ideas as to how these methods work written by CM followers, and I have listened to Susan Wise Bauer's writing lectures for grammar and middle grades. Then there is Ruth Beechick's ideas on using these methods.....so, confusion is just inevitable!!
My biggest issue is that within all the CM ideas I cannot find detailed instructions on how to do these things. Susan Wise Bauer gives detailed "reenactments" of how to do dictation or narration her way. However, I do not know that her way is the best way.....Also, if I am not confident in my own writing abilities, how do I confidently use CM methods to teach?
Any thoughts on this?
Can I add to this as it seems similar - my 12 yr old then should be doing written narration correct? How often? And how do I get him started. I have tried it 2 times and he just doesn't understand how to write it. Though he can verbablly do it awesome. I will try some of BW's advice.
A good transition step can be to encourage your son to start giving his narration orally and you write or type what he is saying. When he gets near the end, step aside and have him finish writing it. As you progress, you can hand the writing over to him sooner until he is writing the whole thing.
@amanda, I hesitated to post this because I in no way want to seem like I'm pushing my own books. I hope you all know my heart well enough by now to know that is not my intent. I just wanted to mention that one of the reasons I put together Hearing and Reading, Telling and Writing was to compile all of Charlotte's instructions and explanations of copywork, dictation, composition, narration, etc. into one place. That book tells exactly what Charlotte said about each of those areas -- the how-to, the why, and the when -- in her own words, but in bite-size chunks and easy-to-use arrangement. It's my attempt to answer those commonly asked questions.
So, was Charlotte Mason the inventor of these concepts or did she just give her own spin on it all? Also, why are there so many different ways and opinions of how to do these things? Just curious....
I will take a look at your book again and I know your purpose is to help and nothing more :) Thanks!
Charlotte did not take credit for inventing copywork or dictation or narration. She just promoted a certain philosophy and approach to education that included those activities done in a specific way.
As with any activity, you will find different people who have different ways of doing it, depending on (among other things) the way they've been taught and/or what their goal is. Other teachers during Charlotte's day promoted doing copywork or dictation a different way than she did. But Charlotte's methods/way of doing those activities all dovetail to support her overarching ideas of how children learn best and should be taught.
Does that help any?
Whew! Thanks for understanding my heart!
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