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Charlotte Mason Volume 1. Ch XII- Spelling and Dictation

January 11, 2012

According to Miss Mason, the reasons for poor spelling is the child (or adult!) failing to allow the eye to “possess (in a photographic sense) a detailed picture of the word. The other reason could be “sparse reading”. She says that often times, after a mistake is made, the mind captures that image, as well as the correct image, and the mind is confused at which one is correct. So it is important to   learn it right the first time.  And deal with the mistake immediately, before the word is finished.

So, here is the lesson plan laid out by CM, according to the aforementioned location. The 8-9 yo takes a paragraph, and the older child takes a page, 2, or even 3 pages. The child prepares the work by himself. This is important. This makes the work their own, involving much of the mind and therefore intrest. The child takes the tricky words (the teacher may add some) an imagines them. He sees them in his mind. The whole word (I say, like a sign). The child will be good at knowing what words need attention. Then, the teacher takes any words that the child is not confident about and puts them on the board, one at a time. Allow the child to look until they have the picture. If the child is still unsure, let them put the word on the board. Teacher, you must erase any wrong letter as it begins to appear. We don’t want a wrong word picture!

Now last, is the actual dictation. Read the passagem one phrase at a time, once and slowly. You may need to study the passage a bit yourself, to know how to phrase it where there is the least amount of confusion in the breaks. Don’t say “comma” or “colon”. This is the childs work. It may be hard for him at first. But they will live up to the expectation. The teacher watches on, ready to correct any faulty letter (for the sake of correctly taking in the picture of the word).

All this is supposed to take 10 minuets or less! I suppose that happens when you have your expectations and routine ironed out. (Uncomfortable cough). Moving right along…

Did the child make mistakes while writing? That’s ok. He is going to study the wrong word (the correct spelling of it, that is!) in his notebook, until he is positive. then he writes it.

So, were there many missspelled words when the dictation was finished? It may be several things. Sparse reading. (So let them read more). Hasty reading. Don’t allow them to skim over the words. Be more deliberate. Or this could be a new process for them. Some children will be better “equiped” for this than others. But they can all still learn the process, at their own pace.

One more thing. This lesson can carry over into other areas of their schooling. Put up the name of, say, Henry Plantagenet on the board. And let them add the name to their memory. Or apply it to geography. Put Ireland and England on the board.

So remember with your mind’s eyes: Memorize. Visualize. Copy-ize. :-b


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