Copywork is a part of the backbone of a Charlotte Mason education. While I don’t recommend excessive copywork at younger ages (copywork should be a pleasure and not a chore) copywork can be a good way to learn Scripture and poetry, to practice handwriting skills, to learn grammar and English language usage, and to memorize Scripture and poetry.
I’ve used the journals that follow for Scripture memory work, poetry copywork, grammar, recitation and poetry-reading skill-building, penmanship and writing practice.
I do not use copywork for younger students every day, but it’s a fun add-on to our regular Scripture memory at meals, a chance to practice handwriting for a kindergartner, a chance to practice penmanship, and often, a chance to practice recitation skills. Learning to wrap a line of poetry and continue the thought rather than recite in a sing-song voice is a skill many of us can still learn!
For younger students, copywork can be a line or two until it becomes easy. Never burn out a young child on copywork. If it is hard, it usually means that you are introducing a skill too early.
Neuro-developmentalists encourage waiting until a child is at least 6 to put a pencil in their hands as handedness emerges by this time. In particular, do not rush copywork for boys, who are working on gross motor skills in these years. Mixed dominance is an issue for some people, who may use one hand to write with, opposite side ear, eye, or foot, or who use one hand to write with and the other hand for everything else. This can cause learning issues such a dyslexia. I speak as one who knows, it can be hard to be mixed dominant, so do not be afraid to pause on this skill.
A chore one year can become relatively easy the next, so do not be afraid to wait. When the time comes, introduce copywork slowly. In addition, I’ve found that putting knee pads on a child who is reluctant to write and getting them to crawl for ten minutes (even with music playing) first can help their right/left brain crossover. You will get better results this way.
For middle school and high school students, copywork can be a daily skill, a joy and a delight. I’ve even used my 17th Century Poetry Journal for grammar lessons. Do not be surprised if your child starts writing poetry in the style of the poetry he is studying. This is one of the pleasures I’ve experienced with copywork, recitation, and poetry read-alouds. It is a joy from Jesus!
These pages linked below are intended as a resource for families, and as such printing for family use is permitted. It is suggested that copywork be bound with spiral binding at Office Depot or some such place. A spiral binding allows for easy opening and writing, and is part of the Take and Read philosophy, putting books in children’s hands rather than in parents’ control. Printing can happen back to back. Enjoy 🙂