Learn to use dictation to measure literacy skills
Mar 27, 2017
Do you sometimes wonder how your child is fairing at school? Dictation is a quick, easy method to assess how well children are mastering language arts skills such as reading, writing, speaking, and listening.
The rules are simple; just dictate a few sentences, and ask your child to write it down word-for-word. This can be done with paper and pencil or with a keyboard. Their skill level is what matters, not the medium. After they’ve finished, go over their work with them and make any corrections.
Practicing dictation in this way can help parents understand how their child is progressing. Additionally, here’s what dictation can do to help your kids:
Enhance listening skills
Tell them you’re going to say a sentence. They’re just to listen. Then they pick up their pencils. You say the sentence again, slowly, clearly, as they write it down. Then you say it again as they look at what they wrote. Then move on to the next sentence.
Enhance focus & concentration
When they know you’re going to say the sentence only three times, they know they’d better pay attention. Focus.
Allow time for settling down and sitting still
A couple sentences of dictation allows them to settle down, sit still, and be ready to learn, to do homework or study.
Allow for doing one thing at a time, without distraction
They can’t be distracted when they’re concentrating on listening, writing, and proofreading. Again, focus.
Improve note-taking skills
As they get older, note-taking becomes increasingly important, whether they’re using pen and paper or a keyboard. Listening carefully and strategically is key.
Allow to check for important skills
With just a couple of sentences, you can check for spelling, capitalization, punctuation, usage, and vocabulary.
“Proper names are capitalized, remember. Did you not know the word ‘destiny’? Let’s learn it together.”
You can also evaluate typing or printing skills.
Eliminate common mistakes
Practice makes perfect.
For they’re/there/their, try this sentence: “They’re over there with their bikes, ready to begin the race.”
For it’s/its, try this sentence: “It’s so much fun to watch the puppy chase its tail.”
For you’re/your try this: “You’re going to get your turn in just a minute.”
For for/four try this: “For your birthday, you’re going to get four presents.” (Notice how you sneaked in a your and you’re!)
For two/to/too, try this: “You two boys can try to climb the tree, too, just like the girls did.”
Make it easy
Five minutes, two sentences ought to do it. Couple times a week
Make it fun
Make up funny sentences. Or switch, and have them dictate to you. Ask them to make up sentences with the vocabulary and spelling words they're working on in school.
Use it for homework
No homework tonight? Dictation time! Over time, you can compare your child’s work.
Clear evidence of their progress will be a definite confidence boost! Once they feel comfortable with the exercise, you can even mix it up.
Have your child write the shopping list while you go through the cupboards or take notes during a family meeting. You can even do this exercise in another language!
If you would like an even closer look at your child’s skills call us at 902-422-7323 or email Hannah@sylvanlearninghalifax.ca to book an assessment.