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In 2015 with 7 children ages 8 and under and another baby on the way, I looked for some type of dictation online that our children could use to sharpen their writing ability. While we use Rod and Staff Curriculum exclusively, I wanted something more for our children. I searched the internet for days and could not find anything so I decided to make something myself. I found that I could use the sound recorder on the computer to put with Scriptures that would help them to learn how to write well. I have been happy with the way it’s been put together and didn’t want to just keep this for myself. If anyone is interested in doing this for themselves, let me know and I will be happy to share how I put this together.
Copying and dictation is considered the natural method for learning how to write well. Ruth Beechick shares in “The Three R’s” that Benjamin Franklin and other famous and ordinary writers of past generations were raised on this method. They wrote in more complex sentences and often with more organized thoughts because they studied from those models. After schools grew large and started grading, workbooks were introduced and diluted the task of writing by having students fill in the blanks substituting for real writing. By having children copy, dictate, compare and repeat, they will learn to write well.
What about teaching grammer? She shares that teaching grammar early on is not necessary. She asks, “Is it better to move from whole to parts of from parts to whole? The natural method, the method of learning to write by studying and doing writing, is basically a whole-to-part method. She shares that grammar scores do not correlate with quality of writing. Children who know the most grammar are not necessarily better writers. The parts do not add up to the desired whole. But moving in the opposite direction does work. That is, students who are good writers can learn grammar better than students who are poor writers. When your child learned to speak, he learned more grammar than you ever thought of teaching him. Efficiency is a correlate of learning from wholes ”
The picture I saw when I read this was a man training to become an auto mechanic. First he has to know what a car is. If he is taught all of the pieces and parts of a car without seeing and knowing the car first, it will not make sense to him. He will not be able to see the big picture to enable him to see how the small things fit together.
Ruth Beechick shares “The learning method which children use for spoken language works as well for written language. You can teach the parts of capitalization, punctuation, spelling, sometimes grammar and numerous other matters day by day in the dictation and copying lessons. Some of them you will consciously teach. Many others the child will learn without your conscious effort. He will learn from the good language models he studies, in the same natural way he learned to speak.”
Ruth Beechick won me over to dictation. I believe those who follow the Charlotte Mason method or Classical Learning may benefit from this as well as I think they incorporate dictation into their lessons as well. Let me know if I something isn’t working right or I am missing anything.