Monday, January 14, 2013

What is Copywork?

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What is copywork?

Copywork is essentially reproducing the written word for the purpose of strengthening writing skills.  A child takes a sentence and copies it exactly, either right underneath or onto another piece of paper.   The child should take care to use their best handwriting for this exercise.  A very young child might just copy a single word that their mother has written on a piece of paper.  An older student will progress to being able to copy a paragraph out of a book into their own notebook.  Typically the piece being copied should be a well written work (Bible verses, poetry, great literature, etc.)

Copywork has been around for millennium (think, they didn't have copy machines or any sort of typing abilities until relatively recently, so anything they wanted to record or remember had to be copied by hand), but in recent history the term has been coined by Charlotte Mason who used it to teach and give practice in handwriting skills.  Yes it does this, but it also accomplishes so much more!

Why I love copywork!

I have been using copywork with my children since my oldest was three.  Maybe you haven't thought about it as copywork, but I bet that you have used it with your children too!  Most children learn to write their letters by tracing pre-written letters and then by copying them.  This is the very beginning of copywork!  We do copywork almost every day and I love using it so much.  Here are some of the reasons why:

Copywork helps your child with their handwriting.

This one is probably a given, but I thought I would start with it.  If your child is seeing perfect writing (either typed or written carefully by you) every day in front of them, and are told to copy it, their letters will soon start to look like the perfect letters.  When I first was teaching my son how to write his letters, we talked about each stroke he should make, but as soon as we started using copywork pages, I let the page do the teaching.  His writing is not perfect, but it gets better and better very quickly!

Copywork helps your child learn grammar.

When your child is copying sentences that are written correctly, they are absorbing this correct information.  They see every day that sentences start with a capital letter and end with punctuation (and harder concepts as the passages they are copying increase in difficulty).  If you see something in a sentence that your child does not know, it is an easy time to point it out.  You do not even need to teach grammar as a separate subject if you just teach the grammar that is present in well-written passages.

Copywork helps your child learn spelling.

Just like with grammar, if your child is looking at and copying correctly spelled words, they will come to recognize when words are spelled incorrectly.  When they are writing on their own, they will be able to recognize when they spell a word correctly (or incorrectly!)

Copywork teaches the above things quickly and subtly.

I love that copywork gives you a great bang for your buck.  All these things are taught at the same time, without your child even really knowing it!  A few minutes a day is all it takes for your child to strengthen his handwriting, grammar, and spelling skills.

Copywork puts good information in front of your child.

Whatever work you choose for your child to copy, it is being ingrained in his brain as he looks at it, reads it in his head (or aloud), and writes it slowly.  It is a great way to put good thoughts and ideas into his mind.  Whether you choose Bible verses, inspiring poetry, information from that day's history lesson, etc. he will more easily retain the information from this multi-sensory approach.

Copywork teaches your child diligence.

Honestly we are still working on this one, but I promise it is good =)  Your child should work to focus hard on the task as hand.  The amount of work you give your child should take her only a few minutes to finish (expecting more of children as they grow), but they should work their very hardest for those few minutes.  It teaches her to stay on task and to take care to write each letter well.  Focus is a big issue right now for my son, so I may need to scale back the amount of words he writes right now until until he can master copying a smaller amount well.

Copywork can be an independent task.

There are times when I sit right by my son as he does his copywork page, but lately I have been letting him work at it on his own more often.  This is good because it is giving him a small amount of time to see what it is like to manage his own time and to (hopefully!) work hard without me telling him to.  This is also great for me because it gives me a few minutes to work on something one-on-one with my daughter or to get something done around the house quickly.

Now you know what copywork is and why I love it so much!  I hope you will come back to join me for the rest of this week as we discover who should use copywork and what kind of passages to use for it.  I will share with you a new pack I have just finished creating, and you will have the chance to win copywork material from Classical Copywork!  (The giveaway is over, but visit Classical Copywork to sign up for free copywork!)

Take a minute to check out what the other lovely ladies of the iHomeschool Network are talking about this week during the Hopscotch...


  1. I have a kindergartener and I have her do copy work daily. We bought a composition notebook and I just write what she needs to copy and she does her writing right underneath. Sometimes it's her verse from AWANAS or just a random fact from our day. I love looking back through the book. I can actually see her getting better!

    1. Good for you! I love looking back too. We usually do loose pages and then put them in a binder. Thanks for the comment!

  2. We brought my youngest home at age 6 1/2, and she hated all writing. She formed her letters improperly, too. I started her with copywork about 6 months into our homeschool journey and it's made a huge difference. It is not her favorite part of the day, but she does it and her writing has improved so much. It is definitely worth the time and effort we put into this subject.

    1. I'm so glad to hear that you've had a positive experience with copywork! My son isn't in love with it either, but he doesn't mind it.

  3. I MUST get better at copywork for my children. I've slacked off so much, and their handwriting and spelling are suffering. Thanks for the kick in the rear I needed!

    1. You are welcome! lol Thanks for reading, Kristi!

  4. This idea seems to be far removed from public education, im going to try to incorporate it in my classroom to see what kind of results I get!

    1. I'm very interested to hear how that works for you!


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