I had thought I might write about my favorite read alouds today but I just watched a video by Dollie Freeman that I wish I had had available when my children were young. This is so good that it will be part of Tiffany’s “curriculum” on home educating children this year.
This is the link: How to Teach Copywork and Dictation the Charlotte Mason Way. In it Dollie shares about copywork and dictation and how she learned with her first child and changed things with her third.
My children, especially Tiffany, were natural narrators only I didn’t know about narration then. She loved to tell me about whatever book she had just read. I am sorry to admit that because I did not understand how valuable this was, there were times that I cut her short. So you see, I understand what it is like to have kids around all the time and just need them to stop talking but I encourage you to dig deep within yourself and remain “present” with them, engaging with them. I am glad to report that after I learned that narration was a valuable tool in education, I eagerly listened to her “narrations” any time she wanted.
I learned another interesting piece of information by listening to Dollie’s video: we spent way too much time on our copywork and dictation . . . no wonder my kids hated it; although to be honest, they hated anything that took very long to do or involved much writing. She shared that Charlotte Mason suggested only 5-10 minutes on either, if I remember correctly. She also said that the child should do their best work. Now, I’ll admit that I did require my children to do their best work but I think I may have had my standards a bit high. I remember pushing them to write a bit more when they were just learning their letters and pushing them to practice just a bit longer rather than being happy that they had made one or two very good letters and practiced for 5 minutes.
Another thing she talked about was the child having a book of quotes in their own handwriting that brings them pleasure. I wish I had let them pick more of the things they wrote, so that it would have been more of a keepsake that they enjoyed. Although, I do remember giving them more freedom when they were older, I wish I had let them pick things when they were younger. And I guess it is important to really let them pick, even if it means the things they copy are hints for a video game.
Dollie also mentions the Charlotte Mason method of spelling. I treated dictation as more of a pre-test to gather spelling words than being concerned with them getting it right at the time of dictation. Oh, I bet my kids wish I’d have known this method when they were young. Charlotte Mason’s method is to allow the child to look over the material to be dictated ahead of time AND EVEN point out words or punctuation that you think the student might get stumped on, so that they can take a visual picture of it and get it correct. Wow! That viewpoint is so much more encouraging than looking for mistakes in their work so that they have more work to do.
Well, since I cannot do it over again, I hope I can share my failures with you and you can avoid them (especially if the “you” reading this happens to be my children ). I really encourage you to take the time to watch Dollie’s video. (It’s free.) I do not get any compensation for sending you there, I just think it is worth listening to – and enlightening.
Until next time, God bless,