Copywork: What It Is and Isn’t

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Charlotte Mason homeschooling

What is Copywork?

If you would have asked me a couple of years ago, childhood memories of copying sentences such as “I will not pass notes in class” over and over on the blackboard would have come to mind. Even a year ago I might have assumed it was for children who needed handwriting practice. It is…and it isn’t.

Copywork was advocated by Charlotte Mason, a British educator who lived in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. You can read more about Charlotte Mason from one of my favorite go-to CM blogs, Jimmie’s Collage.

Copywork should improve your child’s handwriting, but that is not the sole purpose.  You will be exposing them to grand ideas and quotations, literary masterpieces, and a variety of writing styles; enhancing their vocabulary; and introducing basic grammar such as capitalization, punctuation, and sentence structure. Copywork has proved time and again to enhance memory and attention to detail.

What Does Copywork Accomplish?

  • Reinforces topics learned and commits to memory copied texts/passages
  • Builds character and appreciation of poetry, Scripture, and famous quotations
  • Teaches proper sentence construction, grammar,  and capitalization
  • Aids vocabulary building and learning of new words
  • Builds a foundation for writing by providing ideas and structure
  • Helps improve spelling (we actually use a curriculum called “Learning to Spell Through Copywork”)
  • Encourages neat handwriting and attention to detail

Using Copywork for a Variety of Ages

If you have a young one learning to write, copywork can be small chunks – maybe starting with just a sentence. Usually this works best when the text to be copied is directly above the lines that will be used to write the selection. I like to use the blank notebooking pages that have a box for a drawing for the younger ones. You can write out the selection and place it directly above their lines from a separate piece of paper so their work is their own on the page.

For older ones, you can reinforce any subject they are studying such as poetry, history, or science, and have them copy selections that will be beneficial for them to learn and/or commit to memory. You could also have them copy from classic literature, Scriptures, a novel they are reading, or even national documents, etc. With older children, you can incorporate dictation into their copywork.

How We Do Copywork in Our Homeschool

Since we are studying American history this year, we are using “Our Beautiful America,” which incorporates U.S. geography and facts about America’s heritage.  My daughter is really learning a lot of facts and committing them to memory. We also use Queen Language Lessons, which has copywork selections mixed in.

When I check her work, if she even misses one thing (a comma, a capital letter, spelling a word incorrectly), she must re-write the entire passage. It was important for me to establish with her that she HAS to pay attention to every detail. I think she only messed up twice this year {wink}.

Copywork is a great tool in our homeschool. You can search the internet for free copywork pages, or you can simply open a book and have them copy directly from it. You can also keep a binder with all of their copywork as a great keepsake. My daughter loves to decorate her copywork pages, too.  The options are endless and the benefits well worth it!

I posted a bunch of free copywork and Charlotte Mason resources here.

Guest Post By: Carrie @ Homeschool Giveaways


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One Comment

  1. Thank you for saying that you make them redo the entire selection for copywork if they make an error. This is our first year and we have used copywork without success and I think it is because I am not enforcing the attention to detail enough. I can’t wait to try that technique to see if it helps my son not be so sloppy.

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