Did anyone totally skip the Dictation portion of CM? If so, would you share your story here?
I know I’ve probably got some old posts on this topic because it has been a trouble spot for us from day one. We did the Copywork stage very thoroughly. We do the Common Book practice. But we never, ever got the hang of or consistency with Dictation. Are my children perfect spellers? Nope. However, I think they’re pretty good writers. Their vocabulary is strong; their construction is above average; they don’t hate writing and as they increase in age I’ve increased the frequency and difficulty of their writing assignments.
So what gives … is Dictation always necessary or can the same skills be learned effectively by adhering to the other CM methods?mommamarthaParticipant
I can think of 1 instance where dictation has helped my 14 yob, he had to write and re-write a passage several times because of the word receive. he’d constantly reverse the ei,ie. Also, I think he looks more carefully at words to notice how they are spelled because od dictation. i’ld say he’s an average speller, but has improved because of his careful inspection. although, he only completes 2-3 lessons per week. Martha
Well, I think the main purpose of dictation is spelling.
All of the skills you mentioned are more benefits of great literature, copy work, and oral and written narration in a CM education. It sounds like you did great in those areas. 🙂
I never did dictation with my son either. He was a natural speller and I just wasn’t very consistent with him in this area.
However my daughter is not a natural speller and dictation has been a huge help for her! With consistent dictation she has gone from a poor speller to a pretty good one!ClaireParticipant
Aha! It’s primarily the spelling skill. Well, I’m a terrible speller and only learned through a weird mixture of tricks and phonics to spell semi-competently as an adult. I just knew (know) never, ever to send or turn anything in that I hadn’t read backwards for spelling. Cumbersome but not crippling.
I can never get the kids in to Dictation. I don’t mean as a discipline issue either. They are obedient and respectful, but they don’t see the point of it and the activity really drives them nuts.
Is there another way anyone using CM has done spelling? A method using the child’s own writing perhaps? A way of handling spelling errors that made their children more diligent spellers?
It’s funny too … the words most often misspelled are the easy ones and not the big ones. I think Sonya/someone addressed why that occurs one time on the forum.amama5Participant
My son really dislikes dictation and I’m not crazy about it either, but my husband brought up a good point when he said my son absolutely needed to keep doing it. He said that daily in his job, he has to listen on the phone to directions or information and then write it/type it, etc. Our son also is very talkative and will forget instructions for a job once he opens his mouth to talk, or walks into a different room, so my husband thinks dictation is invaluable for him as a life skill, besides the spelling.
We have also added spelling with a book I use for all of them, and extra work with trouble words. I just read the list and have them spell orally until they miss one, then they write it. That way I have a list of words they don’t know and we can go back and review them.
Several of my children were using homophones instead of the word they meant, so once a week we go over those as a group with a worksheet (there/their, its/it’s, you’re/your). Those helped a lot just to review and have quizzes. I get the worksheets from http://www.worksheetworks.com.
I asked my kids the other day what their favorite part of school was, and three of the 5 said their favorite was spelling!Wings2flyParticipant
My son uses SW. But when he misspells words on written narration, I make a list of them and then occasionally make up our own dictation passage using three or four of them at once. He is more of a natural speller.
My daughter has used Sequential Spelling and I saw great improvement with her. I make up sentences for each word to use it in context. If she keeps missing the word, I can customize it and keep giving her that word. They cover homophones too.
I think dictation is more than spelling. It is also grammar and how to write well. And it is attentiveness.
I agree with you Nebby. I think dictation helps to teach those things as well. It helps the child to picture words, phrases and grammar in her mind’s eye. I was just under them impression that its main purpose is spelling.
Our difference may be in emphasis but I think it’s important. I don’t think the main purpose of dictation is spelling. I think CM had all its benefits in mind when she proscribed it. It is really more about the interaction with good writing and the spelling and grammar and stylistic things are subpoints, no one is the main point. Having said which I can’t call to mind anywhere where she said this. Perhaps others know where CM discussed dictation?
Every thing I have read concerning dictation in Charlotte Mason’s writings, in the wealth of resources available at Ambleside Online, and here on the SCM site, says that the main purpose of dictation is spelling.
The other skills you mention seem to be a part of dictation but more the focus of copy work.
I know that both classical education and Ruth Beechick models have a different emphasis for dictation.
Let me know if you find more information regarding the subject. I will continue to research it as well.
Steps of a Dictation Lesson
Dictation lessons done the following way usually result in good spelling. A child of eight or nine studies a paragraph; older students study one page, or two or
vol 1 paraphrase pg 242
three pages. The students prepares for the lesson by himself. He looks at any word he isn’t sure of and tries to see it with his eyes closed. Before the dictation begins, the teacher asks him which words he thinks might give him trouble. He usually knows, and she can write them on the blackboard. She asks him to look until he has a picture of the word in his mind. Then she erases each word one by one. If he still isn’t sure about a particular word, she should have him attempt to write it on the blackboard from memory. She must watch closely so that, as soon as he begins to add the wrong letter, she can erase it before it lodges in his memory. When the word is on the board correctly, the student again tries to make a mental picture. Then the teacher dictates the passage, a phrase at a time, and only repeating once. She reads expressively enough to make punctuation evident, and students are expected to include correct punctuation. But she should not say, ‘comma,’ or ‘semi-colon.’ After students have spent maybe ten minutes preparing for the dictation as outlined, there are rarely any spelling mistakes. If there are any, the teacher would be wise to cover them with adhesive paper or white-out to erase the wrong spellings from the student’s mind as much as possible. At the end of the lesson, the child should study that word from his book until he’s sure he knows it. Then he should write the correctly spelled word on the adhesive paper, or over the white-out.
Children cooperate enthusiastically with this kind of lesson because they feel like they have a part in it. It also prepares them for the second thing necessary to be a good speller, which is lots of reading with a trained habit of making a mental image of words as they are read.
Bad spelling is usually a sign of not much reading,
This is from volume 1.
Dictation, which reinforces spelling, is when the child writes something as the parent dictates. This is not for testing purposes – the child should be familiar with the passage or sentence being written. You can let them “study” for it first so that he knows how to spell the words. He might close his eyes and try to picture the passage accurately. He might practice words he’s unsure about spelling. Only when he feels he is ready does the dictation exercise begin. This makes it more likely that the child will spell words correctly the first time. Some children are natural spellers and seem to effortlessly absorb spelling from their copywork and reading. For other children, dictation can help polish spelling skills because the child will have to memorize how to spell the word before the dictation exercise begins. The parent then reads the passage slowly and clearly while the child writes it from memory. Some parents use dictation as a way to test their child’s spelling, using misspelled words as a spelling list. But caution should be used because once a child sees or writes a word incorrectly, that incorrect spelling is recorded in his memory. (Sand, rice, cornmeal, salt or shaving cream, which allows misspelled words to be wiped out immediately, is a fun way to practice writing for young children.)
A child does not start dictation until he has mastered handwriting from copywork experience. His first dictation exercise may be a single sentence. By 10 or 11 years of age, he might be able to do a few sentences. Older children might do a paragraph or two once a week.
By 10 to 12 years of age, some children, especially those who don’t learn visually or are dyslexic, will still be having trouble spelling and need extra help. Programs that AmblesideOnline members have used with success are Mary Pecci’s Super Speller and DesignAStudy’s Natural Speller. Sequential Spelling or the book “Seeing Stars” by Nanci Bell may be helpful for dyslexics. Spelling Workout, although popular and effective with some list members, does not follow CM’s philosophy. Spelling Power is also used with success by some list members, but none of the Advisory members have seen it to assess its compatibilty with Charlotte Mason’s methods.
This from one of AO’s FAQ pages.
Dictation Level: Grades 4–12
Description: After the student feels comfortable studying and writing words from memory, he graduates to preparing the entire passage and writing it all at once as the teacher dictates it to him. He doesn’t have to memorize the passage, but he does need to study it ahead of time and make sure he knows how to spell every word in it. You can also encourage him to take note of the punctuation and capitalization before you dictate the passage phrase by phrase. For a detailed look at how to do a dictation lesson, watch this video on prepared dictation.
Other Benefits: Cultivates the habit of looking at how words are spelled as you read; reinforces correct punctuation and capitalization; sharpens listening comprehension; increases vocabulary through context; reinforces correct sentence structure; reinforces the habits of observation and attention
And this last piece from the SCM blog.
This is what I came up with doing a quick search on the matter.Wings2flyParticipant
Thanks Melanie. It is great to know it is not just spelling.
Wings2fly-It’s not just spelling but the main focus is spelling as far as I can see. For instance, the main focus of reading living books for history is to develop one’s knowledge of history. Some other benefits would include being exposed to great writing, seeing correct grammar and word usage, developing one’s love for reading and reading comprehension, etc.
When I searched for dictation, it was always used in the context of spelling instruction as far as my limited search was able to go. Someone else may find more information.
This is the wonderful thing about CM methods! Traditional education often compartmentalizes various subjects but they are so integrated and organic in CM methods, that it’s sometimes hard to tell where one leaves off and another begins. CM language arts just flow so nicely, don’t they?
Well, as I said above, I was going from my own head, not thinking of a particular passage from CM or elsewhere, So I will condede that she does seem to tie spelling and dictation together. I have no problem saying that my own particular approach varies from CM’s in some ways though. Personally when we do dictation I always look at the punctuation too and ask why every comma, etc. is there. If there are interesting stylistic things I point them out too. And for one child in particular I view it as a lesson in being able to remember exactly what was said. So maybe CM did say spelling was the main purpose but I use it for much more than that. I would not even say spelling is the main reason we do it.RobinPParticipant
I think dictation was her main tool for teaching spelling but, as with everything else in a CM education, she had a far bigger picture in mind. She was educating “a person” body, soul and mind and so many other things come into play. Presenting everything in the context of great ideas, be it dictation, math, science or picture study, feeds the mind AND the soul like mere lists or factoids never can.
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