Monday, February 27, 2017

Meaningful Minutes: Dictation

I am sorry I skipped last week.  I honestly don't have a good reason.  Life!  This week lets talk about the next step after copywork  - studied dictation.

This may sound like an outdated skill that only secretaries of old needed to know - but really it is a great skill to practice at home.  Dictation is basically writing down what someone is saying aloud - word for word - in your own handwriting (it does make a difference).  Eventually, you want children to actually hear and summarize in notes - but dictation is an intermediate step.  Dictation helps children with handwriting, listening, grammar, spelling, and attention.

Dictation should begin when a child is about 9 or 10.  They need to be comfortable with the process of writing and copywork as well as able to spell basic words before they move into dictation.  I often do studied dictation - which means that the child can look at the passage before you read it aloud to them.  I tell my son to notice spelling, punctuation and anything else that is different and make sure he has it down.  When you dictate it you simply read it phrase by phrase.  You should only read each phrase once (attention) but with newbies you might repeat a few times.  The child writes what you said including proper spelling and punctuation.  At the end they check it against the original passage and notice where they were off.  With short passages this takes less than 10 minutes.  As students get older it can be much longer - expanding their attention and their memories as you grow into it.

Here is another interpretation, a checklist article and a video about it.   One mom has her child study on her own, while the other leads their children through the process.  Some people have the children use the passage as copywork first and then it becomes dictation.  Others allow the student to study it one day and actually do the dictation the following day.  I think it depends on your kids.  I would typically have it written out on a sheet of paper - not the white board - for beginning students.

You can pull passages from anywhere - literature, maxims, nursery rhymes, the Bible, favorite quotes, fables. Just remember the age and ability of the child you are working with.

 If you want help finding them you can try these resources:

Writing Through History (the curricula developed by the person doing the video above) has dictation passages picked out from the history passages she has chosen.

Here is a more traditional (FREE) dictation book.

Dictation Day by Day is an older series.
book 2 - This one starts VERY basic - but it gets more difficult pretty quickly.  There are also maxims and proverbs and memory selections in the back.  I always like to build confidence where I can.
book 3 - (just for kicks read the first lesson!)
book 4 
book 5
book 6

If you want a more modern series you can check out Spelling Wisdom.  There are five books in this series which begins in 3rd grade and ends in 12th grade.  (There are more hints about using this process on their page).

Dictation is another step towards ensuring your child is a competent listener and writer.  I do remember doing this some when I was in 5th grade - mostly history selections.  It was rare but we did do it.  I highly recommend this as a great way to keep skills sharp over the summer.  You can decide how much grammar you want to discuss as you look at passages.  It can help with spelling as well. If you use a book of collected passages many of them are quotes from famous people, works and sayings - beauty.  Again, you are getting a lot of bang for your 15 minutes of investment.

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