Based on the principles of Charlotte Mason, a British educator during the late 1800s, this spelling series gives guidance to families seeking to "teach as Charlotte did". Miss Mason firmly believed that education should influence the whole child and not just fill a brain with useless information (twaddle). One of the greatest gifts she gave to the education community was the focus on living books - books written by someone with a passion for a subject and not just someone seeking to teach for the passing of a test. She believed greatly written books could be the foundation of all learning. In her writings, she describes, "prepared dictation to teach spelling" which is the foundation of this new series. You may be wondering how prepared dictation works. In this approach, children are provided a passage to study before being required to write from memory, the chief object being for a child to become familiar enough with the words that he can "take in (a photographic sense) a detailed picture of the word(s)". After reviewing the passage, the child studies it for several days, with an intent focus on the words he does not feel competent spelling. When the child feels confident to spell each word correctly, the teacher will dictate the passage, one phrase at a time, monitoring for errors. If errors are noticed during the exercise, the teacher is directed to cover the incorrect spelling to prevent the misspelling from becoming engraved in a child's mind. This process of study and dictation will vary but should generally take less than a couple days to one week for each passage. Sound complicated? It may feel that way initially, especially if your only exposure to spelling has been through endless word lists. Thankfully, Mrs. Shafer does an excellent job of presenting the Charlotte Mason philosophy as it applies to spelling along with word study tips and detailed instructions for the dictation experience. Not only has she presented the background information equipping you to teach spelling in this manner, she has also provided an exceptional collection of writings. Included within these pages are speeches, letters and quotations from famous people; poetry, Scripture (KJV), excerpts from great literature and other varied selections. An extensive index and bibliography are included. Each spiral-bound book contains 140 exercises, which means each book may last just under two years and allow you to work at your child's own pace. Books incorporate more than 12,500 words, including 6,000 of the most frequently used words in the English language, The five books' exercises are progressively longer and more difficult. For example Exercise 1 in Book 1 is a quote from Charlotte Mason-"I am; I can; I ought; I will." The exercise in book 1 is a five-stanza selection of "What the Wind Brings."
You'll notice that the series starts at grade 3. Miss Mason firmly believed that spelling was unnecessary before the late elementary years, giving children the opportunity to familiarize themselves with written language before embracing the task of spelling well. ~ Deanne