The Mystery and Magic of Copywork

A friend recently asked me about any resources to help her daughter with spelling. I was eager to share all about Copywork with her!

I feel like Copywork has been the biggest secret withheld from the traditional school system today. It’s really like gold. I must admit, that as a high school English teacher in my past life, a grammar/word girl, and a person generally drawn to lists and workbooks, Copywork seemed like a shot in the dark. Or like jumping off a cliff and trusting that we would land all in one piece. I dropped all the other workbooks we used and committed to Copywork early on.

What exactly is copywork? Basically, it is a daily discipline and habit of finding and selecting a special sentence from what you read and copying it down exactly in your own special journal. That’s it. In our adult-world, digital version, it’s like clicking the highlight button on your Kindle. But actually, it’s so different, and its rewards are so vast. By copying a well-written sentence each day, a child is learning spelling, vocabulary, handwriting, grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, etc. all in one fell swoop!! In just a 10 minute exercise!

Now that to me is magic! And it actually really and truly works. From 1st – 4th grade, in addition to reading great works and having your child orally narrate them, you really do not need to do much more around those early years of Language Arts. In 4th-5th grade, you can up the game a little more with adding dictation. And in middle school, they should begin writing their narrations.

But spelling, unless there are other deeper learning issues involved with your child, should be a non-issue if you are able to commit to the fun habit of Copywork. Stay committed to it. Don’t compromise on it daily. Let your child really own it. You’ll see an eagerness and focus grow in them while reading to seek out worthy sentences and great ideas to capture as they compile them in their special book.

Here are a few definitions and ideas about Copywork to leave you with. Let me know if you have any questions about how to make this happen practically!

“Children should transcribe favorite passages. ––A certain sense of possession and delight may be added to this exercise if children are allowed to choose for transcription their favorite verse in one poem or another…   But a book of their own, made up of their own chosen verses, should give them pleasure.”  ~ Charlotte Mason (1842-1923)

“The purpose of copywork is to get into the child’s visual (and motor) memory the look and feel of a sentence that is corrrectly composed, and properly spelled, spaced, and punctuated.” Jessie Wise Bauer, The Well Trained Mind

“It is a method, that when used consistently in your homeschooling studies, will improve your child’s penmanship, grammar, and punctuation skills as well as expose him to a variety of writing styles, structures, and techniques.” Debra Reed, {affiliate link}

“Its purpose is to improve the child’s handwriting, expose them to noble thoughts, good sentence structure, rich vocabulary and introduce basic punctuation and capitalization rules. Even grammar is incidentally taught but this is just an added benefit and not the purpose for copywork.” Linda Johnson,Charlotte Mason Help

One thought on “The Mystery and Magic of Copywork

  1. Sonya,I love it when you blog about homeschool related stuff.  You are so good at it 🙂  I still miss your original blog that was all about parenting and HS so I love when you write about it again. I am in CA.  Never got to tell you about it.  call me on Mike’s cell when you get a chance. Love,Molly

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