Copywork is a necessary component to the Charlotte Mason method of homeschooling. It may not always be a hit with the students, but it teaches more than penmanship. Although penmanship is sometimes improved by copywork, a student will develop skills to enhance narration, composition and writing.
So, can we squeeze any more learning out of copywork? I have managed to use copywork time for bible memorization, math rules, language rules, and language lessons. I find the beautiful thing about using a Charlotte Mason approach is that you can tailor it to fit your family. Charlotte Mason is an applied method and not a written in stone or a one size fits all curriculum.
Every morning my kids start the day with copywork. Yes, every morning. Now we all know how daily routine can become stale. If you know me at all, you will know that I need as much variety within an established method as the kids do. So, I make it my mission to keep things fresh and new even if it just from my perspective.
Keeping it Interesting
To keep copywork interesting for the kids I allow them to get creative. I let them use colored pencils or ultra fine point sharpies. I will also allow them, according to age and level, to draw or decorate a page when they are finished. For instance, if the child is learning letters, then the child may draw a few things that start with that letter. This can get sloppy, so I don’t encourage this to be done on the copywork page but a separate piece of paper. I will also use a favorite poem or passage from the book the child is reading as copywork.
To be honest, I do not believe in entertainment education. I love hands-on learning and creative teaching. However, I do not think it is necessary to bribe children into learning by entertaining them. Copywork is valuable and should be instilled in a child regardless of what a child likes or feels like doing. I allow for a break from the norm every now and then, but do not stress myself out by trying to make it fun daily. Have a Wild Wednesday Copywork, or Fun Friday Copywork, or something of that nature. Do not feel the need to jazz it up everyday or the purpose can get muddled. Even all your attempts to be creative and fun will soon turn stale. You will then find yourself in a tizzy constantly trying to improve or add in fun.
Using Copywork to Enhance Other Areas of Learning
My children have memory verses either for school work or church. I often use those verses as copywork to enhance memorization.
Math rules should be learned through example and not trial and error. If a child is writing down facts or equations and gets the wrong answer then the wrong answer is instilled in the child. A habit of 1+1=3 is encouraged rather than corrected. So, this is a great time for extra help through copywork. It also helps with number formation. When my children do this I have them write the equation in numbers and in words. That also teaches them the “language” of math. Math rules are done in the same way.
Grammar rules are done in the same fashion as math. I have the child write out a rule. I may also have the child write the rule in action or when copywork time is over take the time to use the rule by writing sentences.
Language can be easily incorporated in copywork. I have my children write a verse, quote or something from their reading as copywork. Then they go back and highlight, underline, circle or in some way note a verb, subject, adjective, pronoun, etc.
Coming up with copywork for an entire year can be a challenge. We’ll, cut this problem off at the pass by writing down verses, quotes, lines from hymns or poetry on strips of paper. Then place them in a jar to pull out daily.
Another fun thing to do is come up with a series for your copywork. Take a book of the Bible and have the child start at verse one for the first day. The next day use the next verse and so on. You can also do this with a hymn or a poem. Every month you may want to have a theme for your copywork. For instance, you can have a theme of obedience and all copywork verses will relate to that topic. If you are studying Shakespeare you can have a month of copywork from Shakespearean plays.
Praise the effort, but don’t accept laziness. If a child is working very hard but still does not form a letter correctly then praise the child for trying and encourage her to improve. If a child is whizzing through it to get done, then personally, I have the child repeat the assignment. If your child is in between these two extremes then perhaps you can have the child repeat that day’s copywork the next day focusing on imporving errors. Often kids appear to be lazy when in actuality they are just discouraged. We don’t want to make this task torture or a self esteem blower. That would not serve the purpose nor would the child gain full benefit from this task. Copywork is to be done within a certain standard and that standard should be gently enforced.