My middle-schooler is learning to write her own notes.
From simple oral narrations, where she “retells” the details of something I read to her,
she now must read her own notes
highlight the main ideas
use those key words or phrases
in her own sentences.
Tough stuff for a 10-year-old!
So we start with baby steps:
I break it down into skills she can manage and build it from there.
- Read the notes together. I sometimes just whisper the words near her ear as I do in partnered reading.
(Some children need to “see the big picture” first, so a good read through helps them understand the basic flow of ideas. But if your child is chomping at the bit, and raring to get to work, start straight away with the next point.)
- Highlight the main ideas in each sentence. It may be just 1 word, or a phrase, or a word here and there.
Again, help your child with this vital skill. Do it together. Sometimes I try “trick” my child with a silly concept and say, “Do your think this … is important?” She’ll giggle, look carefully and chose a more important word.
- Use these key words in their own sentences. Start this skill orally. Encourage your child to read the highlighted words from 1 sentence aloud and then put them together into a new, simple sentence, similar to the original sentence. Perhaps change the word order around. Start with a highlighted word and let your child finish the sentence. This way, they learn how convey the original concepts, but use their own words. A vital skill! Instruct them at the very beginning that they should not copy the original text.
- Write down the ideas. Again, I encourage you to “help” your emerging writer. Perhaps you could write the first sentence down as your child dictates to you. Make them feel important and say, “Tell me what you want to say.” You could write it directly on their page and then work is done. Then, the next time, write their dictated sentence out on a white board and ask you child to neatly copy it in their notebook or lapbook page. Finally, ask them to write the sentences on their own after an oral practice.
It takes a few stages, but soon your child will master several important skills!
It will happen.
Your child will learn to write their own notes.
How have you helped your child find key words, identify important facts or re-write these facts on their own? Please share with us in the comments.
For your information: In these photos, my child is completing a Footprints in our Land “The Dutch at the Cape” lapbook – of part a wonderful South African literature-based history curriculum.