by Sheila Carroll
Are you a cracker-jack speller? Or, does the subject of spelling produce a groan? Most people struggle with spelling. Likely it is because they were not taught to picture the word before spelling it.
Charlotte Mason, an English educational reformer, had one of the best ideas I have come across of teaching children to spell by seeing the words before they spell them. Ms. Mason felt that the secret of spelling lay in the habit of visualizing words from memory. She called this process the royal road to spelling. If a child were a poor speller, she taught, it was usually a sign of too little reading of high quality literature, or skimming the text without the habit of seeing the words.
Children can be trained to see the words they are reading. One way this is done is through dictation, usually from a work of great literature the children are reading. The method of dictating a passage to improve spelling involves seeing the word correctly spelled in the mind’s eye and then ensuring that the word is written successfully the first time. The reason for the emphasis of having it correct the first time is that the opposite is also true. A misspelled word is seen incorrectly and is difficult to correct.
Steps of a Dictation Lesson for Spelling Mastery
- The child is given a paragraph to read and study closely
- Then prepares by himself, by looking at any word he is not sure of, and then seeing it with his eyes shut.
- Before he begins the dictation, the teaching parent asks what words he thinks will need his attention. Most students know but, if not, the teacher can point out a word or two.
- He lets you know when he is ready.
- The teaching parent asks for any words the child is not sure. She puts these on a sheet of paper, having the child look until he has the picture in his mind. She then rubs out or places a piece of paper over the word or words.
- Then, the teaching parent reads the selection for dictation, phrase by phrase, repeating only once.
- If there is an incorrectly spelled word the teaching parent places a small sheet of paper over the word, so the child will not visualize an incorrect word. Then, the child goes through the process of visualizing with this one word until he can write it correctly. Most children have little difficulty spelling correctly using this method.
(Note: The preparation for the dictation should take about 10 minutes and the dictation about five.)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Sheila Carroll helps homeschooling parents use living books and Charlotte Mason’s methods to produce outstanding results in learning. http://charlottemasonhomeschooling.com/
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