Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Dictation not Dictatorship. Run, don't walk...get a dictionary quick!!

The lack of comprehension in basic vocabulary never ceases to amaze me. In example I was blown away when recently discussing with an acquaintance "how I do it"...meaning homeschool my guys.  Nameless, as the acquaintance will from now forth be referred to as, was appalled that I would teach my children via dictatorship.

For real? Muwahaha you are in my house now little boys!!! Charity, Mother of two thought-squashed boys... ...Yeah, no!

In the interest of protecting the freedom of homeschoolers everywhere I will attempt to explain dictation. I will do so now, so pay close attention. It is the art of hearing something and repeating that knowledge orally or in written word. Dictation is a skill-set achieved over time, through training and experience. It is useful throughout life. It is an awesome tool, so awesome that I will now show you how it played out in our little school.

   I began incorporating dictation into my homeschool when my sons were quite little. Most of the time I would sit one boy at my right and one at my left on the sofa. We would cuddle up real close and I would read. However when I wanted to teach dictation I would set them before me....no looking at pictures. I would read the little stories to them while they drew or built etc... They were instructed to create what they heard me reading. After I finished the story they would show me their masterpiece. They would tell back the story as they explained whatever art medium lay before us. This is a form of narration, which is the precursor to dictation in my opinion. This was great for memory retention and listening skills. I loved, loved, loved it!
   When they grew a bit older I still read those amazing picture books, however the boys were required to write, not draw, exactly what they heard. I read slowly. I stopped often. I started with just one sentence. We worked up to the point of dictating about a paragraph worth of information by late elementary. Both sons now dictate whole essays.
  After the boys write out their assignment they are given the original piece. With this they're expected to go back and correct any misspelled words or grammar misuses. Before handing it back to me they write a final copy in their best handwriting, or type it up depending on the instructions I give.
    Dictation has proved to be a wonderful training tool. My boys have been able to use this in note taking at church and in classes they take outside of our home. This endeavor has enhanced their proofreading skills in a way I could never teach with a grammar text. I don't necessarily agree with those who claim dictation takes the place of formal spelling and grammar. However I do find it a brilliant way to test comprehension and to reinforce those formal skills in a hands on/real world way.
   So...yeah, Nameless, what I'm really doing is EMPOWERING THEM, not squashing them. Grrrr......amazing. (Charity straightens back in confidence)


Jeff Vincent said...

That my friends is one of the many examples of home schooling done well. Which is not to say that all home schoolers *must* do dictation or be an epic failure. Far from it. For our family, dictation has been an invaluable tool, and has served very well.

Shirin said...

From a family who never used dictation but used a lot of narration
PS - when schooling more than one child at a time, have the youngest narrate first then move on up to the oldest. Typically, the activity maximizes the strengths of each age/stage this way.