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In a Charlotte Mason education (To which we now primarily subscribe), you will hear certain terms and phrases, like “copywork”, that may seem foreign when thinking about education. Charlotte Mason was a British educator in the late 1800’s that revolutionized how the upbringing and education of a child should be approached. Her philosophy is best understood by reading her 6-volume set of books she wrote for the people of her time. It has remained timeless and thousands of homeschooling families have enjoyed re-learning and sharing her methods in their own homeschools through the years and to the present day.
Copywork is one of those methods and, though simple, it is remarkably effective at teaching a child handwriting and language skills as a whole.
A short definition of copywork would be: the transcription (or COPY) of letters and literary passages. A longer definition would be: This technique is used to help students learn to write from the initial skill of forming alphabet letters, all the way through learning to write sentences, paragraphs, poetry and more. Once students have the ability to copy sentences and paragraphs, they usually copy excerpts from good/classic literature. The idea is that by copying, they learn the techniques of great writers that they can then apply to their own original writing. (from a website (www.homefires.com) under their “Homeschool Glossary” section)
Emphasizing quality over quantity, a student is not bombarded with sheets and sheets of work, but rather, is given a specific text to study and copy once per week. Everything must be copied correctly from the formation of letters and spelling to punctuation marks. Letters must be carefully and efficiently formed in order to be considered excellent work. What is happening throughout this whole process is that the student is fully engaging with language as a whole rather than in parts. They read the text, comprehend the text, memorize the text, write the text and proofread their own writing alongside the teacher, making any corrections that need to be made immediately. This ultimately give children a rich and rewarding view of the English language. Selections for copywork are carefully chosen to expose the child to good and wholesome literature from a young age.
Copywork transitions into dictation, in which the student writes as selections are read to them. The student must correctly write what they hear and in the proper usage. This also develops their note taking skills, speed and efficiency.
The best way that I have found to do copywork in our homeschool is this:
Day 1- Introduce the copywork to the student. Read it. Have the student study it, and begin copying the text.
Day 2- Student continues copying the text given.
Day 3- Student and Teacher review the copywork, correcting any misspelling, grammar mistakes, and punctuation issues.
Day 4- Teacher dictates the text to the student and the student transcribes what is being dictated. All punctuation, spelling and grammar must be correct.
Day 5- Teacher and Student review and correct any mistakes.
Now here’s the thing about copywork that I LOVE: You do not move on to harder text until the student masters the level they are currently in.
Why do I love this so much? Because ultimately, your child is taught to stick with and master their skills. Some parents panic if their child gets stuck at a level, but I have seen that perseverance and working alongside your student WILL pay off. They WILL get it, and often, they will rapidly move forward when they do- so stay the course! It will pay off!
Charlotte Mason understood children so well and we have been so blessed include her ways in our homeschool. To get to know her more, check out the links (When you shop through affiliate links like the ones below, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you) below: