How to do Charlotte Mason Dictation – With Free Word Study chart.

Charlotte Mason Dictation

Dictation Charlotte Mason Style

Dictation has been used for centuries; it is a tried and true successful method that has proven results. Charlotte Mason believed it was essential for teaching spelling and writing. Charlotte Mason dictation is a little different to how many of use would conduct a dictation lesson. She believed in studying the words before the were to be written.

Dictation Is The Next Step After Copywork

A natural start to teaching dictation begins with copy work then you can progress to dictation.

Many home educators use dictation as the backbone for teaching their children to write and spell.

Dictation Forms A Framework For Good Writing

Although Charlotte Mason dictation is simple, it is still hard work for children because they need to concentrate on the mechanics of writing.

Using dictation allows children to practice their writing frequently without the additional stress of trying to think what to write.

Many people worry that dictation stifles creativity. It doesn’t!

“Our society is so obsessed with creativity that people want children to be creative before they have any knowledge or skill to be creative with.” A Strong Start in Language by Ruth Beechick©1986

How To Do Charlotte Mason Dictation

When you and your student are preparing a dictation passage, have them study the passage before they are required to write it.


Identify difficult words and allow time for the student to study the word (learn the spelling).

Here is a free Charlotte Mason Dictation Word Study Chart for you to prepare your own spelling lists and to help your children practice words before dictation.

spelling and word study chart

• carefully copying out the word;

• visualizing the word in their mind with their eyes closed;

• practice writing the words (make sure they are practicing the correct spelling).

When the student feels confident that they can spell the words correctly, begin the dictation.

Look at your student’s dictation and see where the errors are.

From this you can make individualised spelling lists.

You may also wish to introduce some spelling rules to help them with the word

Remember to correct misspelt words as soon as possible so that you don’t risk  the student memorising the incorrect spelling.

Why Is Charlotte Mason Dictation Good For Teaching Spelling?

‘The gift of spelling depends upon the power the eye possesses to “take” (in a photographic sense) a detailed picture of a word; and this is a power and habit which must be cultivated in children from the first. When they have read “cat”, they must be encouraged to see the word with their eyes shut, and the same habit will enable them to image “Thermopylae”. This picturing of words upon the retina appears to be to be the only royal road to spelling; an error once made and corrected leads to fearful doubt for the rest of one’s life, as to which was the wrong way and which is the right. Most of us are haunted by some doubt as to whether “balance”, for instance, should have one “l” or two; and the doubt is born of a correction. Once the eye sees a misspelt word, that image remains; and if there is also the image of the word rightly spelt, we are perplexed as to which is which. Now we see why there could not be a more ingenious way of making bad spellers than “dictation” as it is commonly taught. Every misspelt word is in image in the child’s brain not to be obliterated by the right spelling. It becomes, therefore, the teacher’s business to prevent false spelling, and, if an error has been made, to hide it away, as it were, so that the impression may not become fixed.’

Charlotte Mason. Home Education.

Punctuation and Grammar

The way you read a passage will help them work out the natural pauses for commas and full stops. You should work towards giving no punctuation prompts during dictation.

There are many punctuation rules to learn, some are very complex, and of course there are always the exceptions. Focus on the basics and make sure you have a good reference.

Using good literature to model correct usage of words is valuable for teaching good grammar.

A grammar reference will also be a useful resource.

Finding Passages For Dictation

The beauty of Charlotte Mason Dictation is that you are not limited to fixed texts for dictation. The key to making it worthwhile is to use living books, books that are worth reading and writing.

You can use many sources including; scripture, poetry, classics and non fiction.

Australian Dictation Passages Made Easy

Downunder Passages is a collection of classic Australian poetry and prose that will help you increase your Australian literature content in one easy package.


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