Teaching My Baby To Read

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Be Your Child’s Secretary

Bruce got a bee in his bonnet today to write a book.  Mainly, I think he was inspired by our new three-hole punch, and wanted to try it out.  He gathered up some paper, asked me for a ball of yarn and went to work.  Then he sat down and started on his story Sock Numerous and the Lost City together.  But after five minutes spent on the cover, Bruce was losing steam and said, “Mom?  Will you be the secretary?”  This is a practice we employ often, both in writing and sometimes even in math.

Being your child’s secretary is when you take control of the pencil but let your son or daughter be the boss, and tell you what to write down no editing allowed.  It is an extremely effective way of helping children tell stories, and is useful all the way up to third grade. When Bruce was four years old and had great difficulty in writing numbers, I would sometimes be his secretary then too.  This allowed his math skills to develop, regardless of his handwriting, which is still quite average. 

It’s important for children to practice writing on their own most of the time, but being your child’s secretary can be a very useful too, especially if you sense that your son or daughter is on the verge of becoming overly frustrated.


  1. La Texican says:

    The well-trained mind forum has a stray post in it somewhere that explained to me the benefits of training narration, dictation, and copywork separately. “Narration” is where you’re their secretary. “Dictation”, where they’re your secretary, helps them learn how to take notes. “Copywork”, copying quotes and such, builds fluency and speed in handwriting.

    • jenbrdsly says:

      Interesting. I use to do this when I taught K-4 all the time, espeically with really bight kids who couldn’t write as fast as they could think.

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