Copywork is one style of teaching language arts that is implemented with the Charlotte Mason philosophy of homeschooling. It is the first formal method of introducing writing to younger children.
Understanding the benefits of copywork
The focus of copywork is just as the name implies: copying. It is a time to teach children early writing skills such as forming their letter, spacing letters in words, and spacing between words.
The emphasis should be on the quality of work that the child is producing rather than on the quantity.
Initially aim for 5-10 minutes of focussed work, stopping when your child begins to lose focus and interest.
Skills developed using copywork
By using copywork to teach your younger child to write, they are developing many different skills:
- Observation – as they see what they are writing and then copy it
- Teaching the habits of attention – to maintain their focus while writing
- Teaching the habit of best effort – producing their best work and not just rushing through
- Early grammar skills – focus on sentence structure; capital letters, periods, commas, correct spelling of a word
- Learning vocabulary in a natural context
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How to start using copywork with your child
This is a wonderful time to sit and work one on one with your child. The lessons are short making it possible to do individual lessons even in a homeschool with multiple children.
When I first started with my oldest, I encouraged her to pick what she was going to write. Often when we were doing our read aloud time I would ask her what part of the story she liked best and then I would select a section to use for her copywork.
If your child is just beginning in copywork, choose a quality word, sentence, or paragraph (depending on your child’s level).
When your child is first beginning to write, use lined paper that is meant for early writers and slowly progress to single lined paper. It takes time to build up the hand muscles and control to be able to write with small neat letters and we want to set up our children to succeed.
What To Use…
I really like this raised line multi-sensory paper by MEAD, which is what I used to teach my oldest and now youngest to write their letters.
My oldest is now starting the second cycle (year 2) form 1 of A Gentle Feast.
A Gentle Feast has its own Language Art package. A Gentle Feast takes sentences or passages from the scheduled readings and uses it for correlated Copy Work. As we have moved into formal language art lessons, it has been extremely helpful to have all of the correlated Copy Work picked out and set up with writing lines for my oldest.
A Gentle Feast just released a handwriting curriculum for beginners. Are you interested in an easy, open and go, gentle Charlotte Mason based writing curriculum?
Some conventional schools are removing cursive writing from their coursework but we can still teach it at home. After all how will they ever know how to write their signature or read important historical documents such as the Declaration of Independence?
How to know when it’s time to move past copywork
I don’t think there’s ever any time when copywork become obsolete. However, it is important to introduce other skills as well. Once your child has become confident enough with writing words and sentences that they can copy an entire passage (a poem or paragraph) with minimal to no error, then it could be time to start introducing Charlotte Mason’s next step in language arts, dictation.
Do you like the idea of doing copy-work?