Using Methods to Homeschool the Charlotte Mason Way
If you are looking for a way to homeschool a number of children of various age ranges, enjoy reading books with them, want to enhance their writing skills, delve into stories of historical figures and events, and minimize the use of textbooks, using Charlotte Mason’s methods may be just the right path for you to follow.
Charlotte Mason was an educator in England in the 19th century. She wanted children to learn from “living books” not textbooks. She felt children should go outside and experience nature, make observations, and record them in a nature journal. She advocated that children learned and retained information best when they listened to or read good literature and had the opportunity to narrate orally what they remembered from the reading. Their writing skills developed from reading good literature, studying it, and copying it into copy work journals, and writing down dictation. This is a simplified summary of her philosophy, but it gives you a starting point of her basic ideas. To fully understand and implement her methods you can read her original works or books that have been written summarizing her methods. These can be found at http://www.amblesideonline.org/CM/toc.html.
Using Charlotte Mason’s methods, you would teach history chronologically, and can include Bible instruction if you wish. Lessons are kept short so that the child does not dawdle and includes foreign language and art and music appreciation. There are suggested curriculums you can follow at the following websites: http://amblesideonline.org/ and http://simplycharlottemason.com/.
Some homeschooling families combine the use of Charlotte Mason methods with unit study topics. They use notebooking pages to write their narrations, copy work, and dictation to document what they have learned about the theme they are studying. For example, if your family is studying the Middle Ages, you would read living books about the Middle Ages or stories set in the Middle Ages, provide copy work for your child from the book or written work from that time period, and tie in a science topic like disease (black plague) or any scientists’ biographies from that time. You would also include art and music appreciation of artists and musicians from that era. You can find ideas using a combination of Charlotte Mason’s ideas and unit study methods in our Charlotte Mason Unit Studies section.
This is just an introduction to the wonderful homeschooling experience you and your children can enjoy when implementing Charlotte Mason methods in your daily routine. For further information, read any of the following books: A Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on the Gentle Art of Learning by Karen Andreola; A Charlotte Mason Education and More Charlotte Mason Education by Catherine Levison; and When Children Love to Learn: A Practical Application of Charlotte Mason’s Philosophy for Today by Elaine Cooper, Eve Anderson, Susan Schaeffer Macaulay, and Jack Beckman.
For free practical ideas in using Charlotte Mason methods, combining these with unit topics of study, and links to many educational resources, please journey around this website.
Using Living Books
My family and I use the Charlotte Mason method in our own way and what best serves us. I use recommendations from various Charlotte Mason books and websites, including Ambleside Online. However, we don’t strictly follow the scope and sequence recommended by Ambleside, but we do use some of the living books and methods advocated. I believe parents need to modify educational methods that work best for the members of their family. This applies to selecting the books you will use in your homeschool as well.
Some homeschoolers believe books that might be more modern light reading to be twaddle and should be discouraged. Other parents with reluctant readers might use these books to interest these readers into reading books recreationally on their own. You do, however, want to read aloud and encourage your children to read quality literature in its theme, content, and writing. Barring learning disabilities, children’s vocabulary and reading and writing abilities develop with exposure to more sophisticated literature rich in imagery and descriptive language. Their taste for good stories is encouraged with a steady diet of well developed plots and characters, including non-fiction events and famous people. If we read a title that was recommended by Charlotte Mason websites or programs that we found uninteresting, even though others had raved about it, we simply stopped reading it after giving it a good try. Some titles are going to appeal to some and not to others. If I were to force my children to listen to the book and myself to read it, we would not be using our time wisely and would be killing our joy in learning. As I tell my children repeatedly, life and use of your time is a matter of choices, and you want to choose the “best”, not just “good.”
Charlotte Mason discouraged twaddle in her students’ reading. She encouraged “living books.” These books are whole books with entire stories or are written on one topic, not written like a textbook covering a wide variety of topics with summaries of facts. Living books can be used in all subject areas including math. For a more detailed explanation of using living books in math or with the topic of Pi, read our articles about using Charlotte Mason methods in math.
For history, science (including nature study), literature, and even geography there are a number of books out there written on one topic or time period written by people with a knowledge and passion for that topic. This passion and attention to detail is what makes the children enjoy reading these books, interested in the topic, and remember what they read.
History and historical figures come to life through detailed stories of events and lives of people in different time eras. More in the fashion of a classical education, we study our history in a chronological fashion starting with ancient and biblical times. We also study the time period horizontally across the hemispheres and different continents. We read a couple of books as our spine that cover the time period, while reading other books that are about specific topics pertaining to that time period. For example, while studying ancient Egypt and using Story of the World and A Child’s History of the World as spines, we also read books about pyramids, King Tut, and scientific discoveries. We also read fictional books that centered around characters and their daily lives during the ancient Egyptian times to get a feel for the time period and what common daily life was like. We had a framework with details to fill in that framework. Some places to look for history titles that might interest you would be homeschoolchristian.com, Yesterday’s Classics, the Baldwin Children’s Online Project. Also you will want to study primary sources that tie into your history study.
For science, you might want to read living books that include biographies of scientists or books about specific topics. We tie our science study in with what area of science was being developed or the scientists that lived during the specific time period we are studying. For example, if you are studying the renaissance, you can read about Galileo or Leonardo da Vinci. For your nature study, there are numerous sources from which to choose as well. Some places to look for titles are Noeo Science, homeschoolChristian.com, Nature Study, Nature Stories. We also use the Apologia series for the elementary and the middle/high school levels. We read books aloud that go along with our studies in these books.
When studying geography, we read general geography books and others that go along with our studies of a specific time period or geographical area in history. We’ve read Holling C. Holling books and mapped the area as we read. Charlotte Mason also wrote her own geography books – Geographical readers. Two other geographic living books are A Child’s Geography series.
Good literature to read has a good plot, detailed and vivid character descriptions, and various literary elements with extensive vocabulary. A good example of clever use of words is found in The Phantom Tollbooth with all of its puns, idioms, and plays on words. For adventure and satirical comedy, we have read Tales of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle and The Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain while we studied the middle ages. My sons laughed out loud with the comedic situations in these stories. My son has also enjoyed The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn with Mark Twain’s style of tongue in cheek sense of humor. He was very tickled reading about their big plans they would make in their club that actually turned out to be nothing in reality, but in their imaginations they had great adventures they would retell to one another. These books tie in the historical period of the time, but are also thoroughly enjoyable, and develop your child’s creativity, vocabulary, and use of words. Some places to look for lists of good books are Charlotte Mason education book list recommendations, homeschoolchristian.com reading lists, Baldwin Online Children’s Project.
Remember to look in our Unit Study Resource Store for other titles of living books as well. You know your children, what interests them, what their individual abilities are, and what you are studying. You make the decisions about what you feel is good literature for your children. These are suggested titles that have worked for us. Don’t feel you have to start or finish a book just because you see that it has been recommended by other Charlotte Mason homeschoolers. Use what you feel will work best for your family and enjoy your time reading aloud with one another. My children and I take turns reading and creating the voices of the characters in the stories and how we think they would sound based on their personalities in the story or the time period they are in!
Hope you can use these ideas and have found this information helpful!
Teaching Math Using Living Books
When you think of Charlotte Mason you think of using living books as the foundation of your studies. So, how are you supposed to use living books that you read to help your child understand and learn mathetical concepts? This is a very common question amongst homeschoolers using Charlotte Mason methods. Usually, parents find a math program that suits their child’s individual learning style, which is a major goal in homeschooling. But, what can you use to add variety and spice things up abit, or to connect what you are learning in history, science, and literature with your mathematics? That’s right, living books!
You can read fictional stories involving the use of math concepts, non-fictional books putting math concepts in real settings and examples, and biographies of mathematicians and scientists who developed or used certain math concepts. Depending upon what you are studying in math, history, or science will determine what concepts you will read and what people you will study. Tying these real books in with the study of math or history makes math come alive, making it personally significant and significant to what you are studying in other subjects.
Some examples of fictional books using a story to explain and utilize math concepts are -
Books by Mitsumasa Anno and David Adler
- Math Start
- Step into Reading + Math
- Rookie Readers – Math
Some examples of non-fiction books setting math concepts in real life situations and examining real examples are found in the following series:
Math for the Real World
Math All Around Me
When studying mathematicians or scientists in history or science, it’s fun to include a biography of the person. The children enjoy knowing what the person was like and what made them so interested in the concepts they discovered or helped to develop. My kids definitely enjoyed the stories of Archimedes and his adventures in the bathtub! These are the stories that stick and in turn help make the concepts associated with these entertaining personalities stick in our memories too!
Here are some suggested biographical resources for some famous mathematicians:
Math and Mathematicians: the history of math discoveries around the world by Leonard C. Bruno
Archimedes: Mathematical Genius of the Ancient World by Mary Gow
The Life and Times of Pythagoras by Susan and William Harkins
The Thirteen Books of Euclid’s Elements
The Librarian Who Measured the Earth by Kathryn Lasky
Some examples of activities you might want to include when reading any of these books might include narration at the conclusion of a chapter of a short book or at the end of a longer one, then writing a narration on a notebooking page. Your notebook page might include an explanation of the concept, formula if there is one, an example of the concept (including a math problem if that is how you use the concept), and a story example using the concept in a real life situation that your child can pull from their own experience.
You can also write a narration from one of the biographies using a biography notebooking page or a specific mathematician notebooking page, such as the one at this website http://www.homeschoolwithindexcards.com/Notebooking_Forms/MathematicianBiographySheet.pdf.
If you wish, you can incorporate the use of copywork from some of these biographies or quotes from mathematicians and then have your children do dictation from this copywork.
We have done a number of these types of books and notebooking pages. You can go further, if you come across a fun idea like our family did when we were studying Archimedes during our ancient history studies. We found out that he developed the concept of Pi that we use today. We also found out that National Pi Day was on March 14th, so we held Pi Day at our house! We read, wrote, played some problem-solving games and activities using Pi (while wearing Pi headbands). At the end of the day, we had to calculate the dimensions of our pizza pie using the formula for Pi before we could all eat our dinner.
To start your planning for Pi day, March 14th, try out this website www.exploratorium.edu/pi. To add some more fun to Pi day with a book, try reading Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi by Cindy Neuschwander.
Here are some other websites that focus on math concepts and mathematicians for the older students:
http://www-groups.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/~history/BiogIndex.html (an index for biographies of mathematicians and math topics)
We’ll be having more ideas soon for using these books, activities, and more in unit study formats soon! Remember to click on our link in the top left hand corner to subscribe to our newsletter for more ideas just like these in the future! Have fun using real books in your math study!
Using Narration in your Charlotte Mason Homeschool
This week’s focus is on narration, Charlotte Mason’s art of narration to be more specific. When I first heard of the word narration before I started using Charlotte Mason’s methods in my homeschooling, I would have an image in my head of a child standing by a desk at the teacher’s request, reciting answers to questions of a homework assignment while the teacher looked on with a stern manner.
Today, I picture my children and I lounging on our sofas in our livingroom reviewing what we last read, reading our next chapter in our “living book” selection, and then my children relating to me with their own personal versions of what we just finished reading. I much prefer this second picture. Narration has now become my favorite part of our school day, aside from just reading together.
There are two forms of narration we will focus on – oral and written. First we will discuss the oral form of narration.
From the time our children can start forming words (and then even when they just “babble”), they are born narrators. Children love telling stories and relating to you what they have seen or experienced. How many of you have read a book over and over again to your child at his request, and then later heard that same child retell that story to himself, a toy, or to another person later on. Or, if you miss a word or page, they immediately let you know what you left out. My older son loved the story of “The Little Train that Could.” After having heard it routinely, by 3, he was narrating it with all of the different train voices to his stuffed animals – even using the words “as he puffed off indignantly.” (Which is quite funny hearing it from a 3 year old in the voice you might hear coming from a proper crotchety old gentleman.)
Anyway, to get back to narration – it is the art of being able to retell what you have just read or heard. This is a wonderful art to give to your children. It helps them organize their thoughts, use words and sentence structure they heard in the read aloud, express themselves in words and expression, recall information and details, and gives them confidence in their speech. When we first began narration, I was surprised that my usually verbal older son found it more difficult to narrate a read aloud than my normally quiet younger son. But, it was a habit that had to be formed. And we did. Bit by bit, until it became a natural and normal action for each of them.
If you are just beginning with narration, before you begin reading aloud, let your children know they need to pay close attention to what you are saying because they will be expected to remember and tell you what they heard when you are done. Start with reading aloud a short chapter that’s not very complex in its content. When you are done, ask who would like to tell you what they remember hearing in the read aloud. Let your children, one by one, tell you what they remember. Do not concern yourself with the proper order of events or specific details; just get them used to speaking to you about the reading. If they find it difficult to get started, ask a specific question about something that happened and ask them to tell you what happened next. This should get the ball rolling and for the next couple of weeks, continue your narration in this way as they get more comfortable and can narrate more details to you.
As your children grow more comfortable with the art of narration, you can ask them to try to retell what they have just heard in the order of what they heard and then move on to more specific details – by asking a question to draw their attention to that detail. You will be surprised how quickly and naturally your children will follow this habit. We narrate our history or science readings at least three times per week, now that we do longer readings and narrations. At the beginning, they were shorter and four to five times per week. You can adjust this to your family’s needs and the ages of your children.
The second form of narration is the written form. I also love this in our homeschooling! This is where you can really have some fun and develop notebooks on what you are studying.
After your children have become comfortable with their oral narrations, they should be ready to try written narrations after some of their oral narrations. You don’t have to have a written narration after every reading and oral narration. We usually write down the most interesting topics to us or what I may feel are the major or most important ideas, events, or people in our study.
When your children are very young, younger than 8, 9, or 10, (Charlotte Mason and other Charlotte Mason homeschoolers begin written narration around 10.) you can do the written narration for your child. Do you remember from your school days, those big pieces of flimsy tan paper with big lines and dashes in the center, with a big empty space on top for a picture? And, you would practice writing your words and sentences with those fat pencils and then when you were done, you got to draw or paint a picture of your story? Well, with written narration for your youngest child, you can have him orally narrate his read aloud to you, while you write his words down for him. When he is done, he can draw a picture or pictures to go along with his story. You, then, read his story to him as point to each word you are reading. This will connect what you are saying to each word as you say it. Read this story to him routinely and then have him read it to you. It’s okay for him to memorize it and “practice read” it to you.
My younger son wanted to be like his older brother and “write his own book” too, so he started writing his sentences down after his oral narration also. For both my sons, this was another case of forming a habit. It was slow going for both of them. But, as they stared at the ominous blank piece of paper, I would ask them to repeat to me what they had narrated to me from our read aloud only moments ago. Then I would say, “See, you have the words you want to use; now just write down the sentence you just told me.” It took them awhile to get over the intimidation of that blank piece of paper even though they had just repeated to me their oral narrations. First, your children might only be able to write down one or two sentences the first few times they have to write down their narrations. But, just as we did, your children will grow accustomed to the idea that after narration to you, they will write down their narration on paper. You will soon see them writing five sentences, then whole pages and eventually ask for another piece of paper if it is a topic they are particularly excited about. Depending upon the topic we are reading or my sons’ interests, I may choose a notebooking page with a large space for a picture, because I know they will really want to spend time drawing their narration. Other times, if it is more dry and not as creative, I may give them a notebooking page with a simple picture already on the page or a small square where they draw a little picture of their own.
There are quite a few pages throughout the internet with blank notebooking pages, pages with specific formats or pictures depending on the topic you are studying, and pictures of completed notebooking pages you can look at to get ideas for your homeschool. You can keep these pages in some kind of notebook binder or slip the pages into sheet protectors and then put these into a notebook. Either way you have something of a keepsake and study guide of your year together. Your child has something he can look back at and be proud of, and you have something you can use in a portfolio assessment at the end of the school year if you are required to do that in your state.
For middle and high schoolers and narration, their oral and written narration can go beyond just retelling and summarizing what they have read. This is where their writing can really come naturally from their oral narration and their writing gets interesting. You can have them write different forms of essays in response to their reading, just as they would need to on any exam they take for college admission or in college. Great preparation! They can write descriptive narrations of what they have read, personal narrations – even taking on the role of a character in history, science or a literary piece they have just read. What about a compare/contrast paper between two books or other literary selections they have completed? Or a process paper after reading a book or two on a topic of interest to them. ( My son is constantly reading books and magazines about fishing – his summer is going to be spent putting a book together with everything he has learned as a 4-H project.) What about a definition paper? Start out by defining a word as it means to him or the dictionary and explore in detail what that word or concept really means through detail and examples if you have read a book about democracy for example, or courage, or faith. Are you getting the idea. I find, though, the key for my guys, including my oldest, is to let them tell me about it first. Let them organize their thoughts out loud and bounce ideas off you – even if you don’t speak and they can hear their ideas out loud. Their ideas flow much better in this informal situation before sitting down in front of that ominous blank piece of paper.
You will soon notice, as I do, that your children will be unconsciously narrating to themselves as they read to themselves or after you have read something to them. My guys will have conversations between themselves, without me or my prompting, about what we have been reading. Or, like my younger son did today, while he was reading his science book (Exploring Creation with Astronomy) to himself, he was actually narrating what he was reading back to himself – but in a song he made up- while he was reading it. These are moments that will definitely make you smile and you know that you are doing something right!
Here are some sites with more information about narration:
Here are some sites with assorted notebooking pages:
Hope you find these ideas helpful and if you have any questions, please feel free to ask or share any great tips you might have in our comments section! Thanks! Please share our post with anyone you might think may be interested in narration or notebooking.
Other Uses of Narration – End of Semester Exams, Essays, and Timelines
I love using Charlotte Mason’s methods. I don’t profess to be an expert or even a “pure CM’er.” I am, though, a homeschool mom of two boys with very different learning styles, personalities, and talents. I have tried many different materials (my shelves and closets will back me up on this) and different teaching and learning methods. Now, after a number of years, I feel like we have found something that works for us. I enjoy using alot of Charlotte Mason’s ideas, techniques, and philosophies – but unless I make them my own and tweak them so they are my comfortable way of doing things or my boys’ way of learning, these methods would not work as effectively for us as they do.
So, with fair warning to all those looking for “pure Charlotte Mason”, I would like to share with you some ways that we use narration in our homeschool that may be a little different than what Charlotte Mason might have had in mind.
Last week, I wrote about oral and written narration. I also included links that suggested creative ways to use narration other than completing notebooking pages.
This week, I would like to introduce the use of timelines and end of semester (or quarter) exams and high school essays through narration.
We do not avoid all forms of tests; it just hasn’t been a goal. We learn for the enjoyment with another goal of mastery, not a letter grade on a test. We do have however, oral quizzes periodically on vocabulary words, Spanish and Latin words, and science ( for my older son using Apologia) ( he makes flash cards for himself – he and I orally quiz from those in preparation for written tests for this program.)
You are probably beginning to see we use oral narration as a major technique in our assessment and evaluation. There are times it does not apply, as in math beyond simple computation skills and math facts. But alot of the time, oral narration is such a great means to evaluate your child’s knowledge and thinking skills, while giving him the practice in organizing and expressing his thoughts in a logical and coherent manner.
Our big evaluations or assessments are usually in our history study. We include literature, history, science, math, art, and music in our history study, so our periodic assessments include alot of subjects.
Our assessment takes the form of an oral narration as we place timeline figures onto our chronological timeline. We have long rolls of butcher paper with a line drawn through the middle. The top portion focuses on the western hemisphere and the lower half focuses on the eastern hemisphere.
Around what would be quarterly, we place timeline figures for what we have studied that quarter. As we place them chronologically, we take turns orally narrating what we have learned about that person or event. When a person is done, another does his own narration and adds new information or puts the information in his own words. By the end of the year, we have had about four oral exams covering most of what we have read in almost all subject areas.
We add to this timeline every year. When we are done homeschooling, each child will have a timeline from the creation of the world to the present day. We also will have revisited each time period at least twice and added to it with more timeline figures and narrations. You can use this idea for our timeline, or you can do the same kind of review and oral narration with a Book of Centuries.
The other use of narration is for high school essay preparation. As my older son gets closer to high school, while he does his oral narration, I will ask him a question or two that requires him to use higher order thinking skills to develop his answer. The question pertains to what we have read aloud or what he has read alone, but he needs to interpret or analyze the reading to develop his answer. Sometimes the question addresses the reading and makes a comparison or contrasting statement, or asks for a cause and effect analysis of two events we have read about or two time periods we have studied.
This practice prepares my son to think about what he has read and then organize his thoughts, so he can coherently explain them. Then he can write them down after giving me his answer and we have discussed it from different angles.
This also gives us the opportunity to practice different kinds of essay formats, depending on his answer. For example, to write an answer that includes a comparison and a contrast of an event requires a different format than a paper where he describes a cause and effect.
To give you some ideas of questions to ask to get your older children orally narrating and writing more complex narrations, I’ve included some links where you can find some.
HippoCampus has different subject areas, some AP. If you click in the chapter sections and look at their discussion questions, you might get ideas for questions when reading about the same subject.
studentsfriend.com discusses use of thinking skills in the study of history and geography and looking at causal relationships among other types of questions.
constitution challenge – this site focuses on the constitution and is for grades 5-8, and poses questions in a game show format, but includes the idea of orally narrating your answers while using some higher order thinking skills.
Enjoy experimenting with the Charlotte Mason method and try out different ways to use her philosophies and ideas in your home school; you might be surprised by the results. I know I was! And, I like to think she would be pleased. My kids are and that’s what makes learning so enjoyable for us.
If you have read my previous articles, you know that I use some Charlotte Mason’s methods in a variety of ways. Some methods I follow exactly as Ms. Mason would have used them with her students; others, I have customized to suit my teaching style and my and my children’s needs.
Some Charlotte Mason followers advocate that copywork should be used only as handwriting practice and nothing more, while others state it can be used as copywork and a source of spelling practice. Ms. Mason wrote that copywork can be used as a careful “transcription” for handwriting practice using only the best handwriting, attention to detail, and short passages. She also states that the child should note a few spelling words to observe closely, close the eyes to see the word, and then write the word from memory. Allowing the child to pick his own favorite passages from assorted sources makes it a more meaningful exercise; and, when written in a personal journal, the child has a book of favorite selections as a keepsake.
I allow my children to select passages I’ve printed out and put into a folder, or select a book they are reading or have read, or choose a book that corresponds to the topics we are discussing from a few choices on our reading list. They can then choose a notebooking page they can copy on from another folder, where I have placed copies of notebooking pages with various theme borders or pictures.
When they have selected their passage, I point out to them any words I think might be challenging to spell, any capitalization and punctuation details, and a grammar concept, literary device, or special sentence structure used in the sentence. This piece of copywork will be used for the first four days of that week, so I will divide the items I want to discuss over those days of the week, and then use the copywork piece for dictation on the fifth day. I look over the copywork and have my child read it to me aloud word by word so he will be editing his own work. He will usually catch his own mistakes and correct them this way. This forces my children to gain attention to detail and the corrections they make will remain in their memories so that next time they write the passage, that correction is still set in their minds.
I like to use examples of good writing and point out what makes the piece good writing, so that my child understands what he sees as he writes. That way later, when we are writing our narrations and we discuss what makes their writing good or better, we can refer to what he has learned in our discussions of copywork.
I know some homeschoolers using Charlotte Mason might be jumping up and down right now with their arms waving and saying “but you don’t have to point all of this out to the child, he will pick it up as he continues to copy down good literature.” And others maybe saying, “I’ve never heard of copying the same piece everyday or using it for the dictation piece at the end of the week.” This procedure is what my family follows because it is what has worked best with my teaching style and my children’s learning styles. They continue making connections between what writing elements have been used in their copywork with other pieces of literature they are reading or later copywork that comes along. I guess I must feel the need for a little bit more structure to the copywork than letting my child pick this up more intrinsically.
Whatever way you use copywork, it is well worth the time spent for a number of reasons: developing handwriting skills, spelling skills, and copying good writing, which could be a precursor to emulating good writing as you use good literature as your model to follow when writing your own piece.
Find the best way copywork works for your family and have fun with it. Use a variety of pieces your children find interesting; write on fun notebooking pages and decorate them; and put together a neat looking notebook at the end of the year.
Here are some resources to use for copywork pieces:
Have fun with your copywork and creating books of your own!
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.