Using dictation goes hand in hand with the use of copywork in our house. We use copywork and dictation differently than posted on other Charlotte Mason websites and blogs. We study the same piece of copywork everyday for four days, focusing on different spelling and vocabulary words, literary devices, capitalization, punctuation, and various sentence structures. For more details about how we use copywork, please see the article entitled “Using Copywork.”
After studying a piece of copywork all week, at the end of the week, we use that piece as our dictation piece. As I read the selection phrase by phrase (only once), my children will write it down on a piece of notebooking paper. We then correct it together, as they read it aloud to me and mark whatever they find wrong, with some subtle hints from me. This allows me to determine how well they are grasping the grammatical and spelling skills we have reviewed during the week. Errors are reviewed and explained and those sentences will be used again.
My older child who is more language oriented can work with longer and more complex pieces, rarely making mistakes. While my younger one whose talent lies more in mathematics benefits from this use of copywork and dictation with its additional reinforcement.
The following links have various methods in which to use dictation and copywork and dictation sources:
After you read these articles, you will see dictation can be used in a variety of ways that best suits you and your children. We also use different sources for copywork and dictation depending on what we are studying at the time. If we are not reading a book to go along with our history or science studies, we take the time to copy Bible passages, poems, classic literary works, or the boys pick passages from their favorite books. We look for interesting sentences that have new elements and written conventions and spelling words to learn. We then try those conventions in our own writing to make them our own after copying it and taking it down in dictation.
My boys have then made connections between this process when recognizing these writing techniques in pieces of literature and in their own writing. It’s wonderful when all the pieces come together for your children! I hope these methods will help your children make their own connections and enjoy reading and writing interesting sentences as much as we do.