It just makes sense. If you want to become an expert at anything, find an expert and do what they do.
By following this advice I’ve learned to
- braid my hair by copying MissySue
- improve my blogging my following my blog instructor
- better my cooking skills by mimicking Ree Drummond
- teach with success by Homeschooling God’s way
I remember being laid up in bed. I had thrown out my back and couldn’t get up. My husband called in reinforcements and by the second day, I found myself being cared for by a friend of a friend. This woman taught me more about being a mom in two days than any other woman in my life.
As I laid in bed, I listened to her run my home and care for all the kids- two of mine and four of hers. By the time my back healed, I knew I needed to seek her out for parenting tips.
Writing and communication are no different.
Benjamin Franklin, considered to be an incredible writer created a plan to improve his communication skills:
- study excellent writing
- take note of the main points
- let them sit in his mind for a day or two
- recreate the piece
- compare to the original
For centuries, kids were educated by reading and copying the masters.
Not, plagiarism, but copying. Copying is the writing down a passage word for word.
- penmanship by writing down great works of poetry and literature.
- excellence in writing by reading, writing and memorizing great thoughts from masters.
- careful listening by “taking down dictation” as words were recited by a teacher and recorded by the student.
Why do Copy work and Dictation?
The purpose of copywork is to get into the child’s visual (and motor) memory
the look and feel of a sentence that is correctly composed, and
properly spelled, spaced, and punctuated. The purpose of dictation is to
have a child practice transferring his knowledge of the rules of
grammar, spelling, and punctuation to actual writing. ~Jessie Wise
Steps for Copywork and Dictation
First: Give child a selection of literature to hand copy in neat handwriting.
Copywork is used for daily practice as a
- model for correct spelling, punctuation, and capitalization.
- marinade for excellent writing and thought… the best way to improve a child’s writing is to marinate them in excellent literature.
Related: The copywork generator is a great free tool to help you create customized copywork sheets.
Second: After a few days of copywork, dictate the same passage to your child. They write down what they hear, word for word.
Dictation is introduced to (7-10 years and above)
- Read a selection aloud (keep passages short at first)
- Your child writes down what they hear.
- This skill takes time to develop.
- Begin with short sentences or phrases and build up over time to multiple sentences.
Third: Students compare what they heard and recorded against the work of a master (7-10 years and above)
- teaches auto-correcting as they correct the mistakes they’ve made
- increased listening skills
- Increases their vocabulary and complex sentence writing ability as the words from poetry and stories dance in their minds
Benefits of Copywork and Dictation
- Fine-motor development
- exposure to varied styles of literature
- attention to detail
Tips for Success in Copywork and Dictation
- Choose passages that represent solid grammar, good vocabulary, and modern language
- Incorporating Scripture or poetry
- Pay attention to the development of your child
- Keep passages equal to their endurance and ability
What about Narration?
If you read or see something – you remember 15%
If you hear something – you remember 20%
If you see and hear something – you remember 30-40%
If you tell it to someone – you remember 80-90%
Narration is the process of retelling the story in your own words. When your child retells a story, event or main idea they are helping lock that information into their memory.
Different types of narration.
After listening to, or reading any selection, your child can tell you what they remember as you write it down. This is narration.
Narration can be informal, “tell me what you remember”, or formal, “write down everything you remember”.
Types of narration:
- Drawing a picture, then telling you about what’s going on
- Playing a secretary. Kids tell you what they remember as you write it down.
- Creating a comic strip of events capturing the beginning, middle, and end.
- Kids write down the story or main ideas.
- Sing the narration.
- Record a video of your child’s narration and watch it together as a family.
- Allow the child to “teach” the class on the whiteboard by drawing simple pictures as he narrates
Narration helps the child develop the skill of paraphrasing, putting someone else’s ideas into their own words.
Tips for Narration
- Use your normal readings from history, science, literature, Bible, or even math for narration practice.
- Start small, narrate back 1-2 sentences.
- As the child is able to form a couple of sentences, add on another.
- Begin with a prompt, Read two sentences from today’s reading and then ask an open-ended question, such as “what happened next?” or “why was this a significant event?”
- Help your child simplify their thoughts, “Is there a shorter way to say that?”
What Can you use for Copywork, dictation, and narration?
The short answer- anything
The longer answer- any piece of literature or information that will enrich your child’s life.
Notebooking pages are a great resource to use for copy work, dictation and narration. I’ve tried both plain notebook paper and notebooking templates with my own kids, and there’s just something to the templates that make this work more enjoyable.
Additional tools for Copywork, Dictation, and Narration besides a paper and pencil
- Notebooking pages
- Whiteboard and pens! a variety of pens makes a whiteboard magical.
- Comic strip paper
- calligraphy pens (older kids)
- Book: 100 Years: Wisdom From Famous Writers on Every Year of Your Life
- Book: George Washington’s Rules of Civility