Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Who Should Use Copywork?

Welcome to a week long series at Living and Learning at Home!  The ladies of the iHomeschool Network have another Hopscotch going on and my topic is copywork.  Yesterday we talked about what copywork is, today we will talk about who should do it, then the rest of the week I will share resources for it, and answer questions about the topic.  I encourage you to ask questions or give suggestions at any time.  Either leave a comment or send me an email and we can discuss this topic together!

Today we will be talking about who should use copywork.  Why everyone, of course =)  Let's take a look at what copywork will look like at different ages.


Yes, even your littlest preschooler can begin their copywork journey!  From the first time they trace a line on a page, they are practicing copywork.  Sure, it's not formal copywork, but it is great preparation and the principles are the same.  My 2 year old currently loves tracing letters made of dotted lines, and even trying to write her own letters.  Come back tomorrow for a list of places to find great copywork for pre-writers!


I consider beginning writers to be those who are still mastering the strokes each letter, cannot write on normal sized lines, and take quite a bit of time to write just a few words.  They might start out writing just a word or two, progressing to short sentences.  The key at this stage is to not exhaust their little hands or exasperate their attention spans.  Five minutes of writing is a good goal, but you will know the right amount by watching your child.  What is important at stage is making sure that they are taking their time to write their letters well, holding their pencil correctly, and focusing on the task at hand.

Things like simple phrases from children's books, Bible verses, sentences they can read, words that will encourage them toward good behavior, etc. are good choices for copywork at this Beginning stage.  Come back tomorrow for lots of specific examples from many sources!


Elementary writers are those who understand how to write each letter well, are starting to write smaller, and are ready for lots of practice!  These young writers will benefit from doing copywork every day.  Don't let this overwhelm you!  Just like beginning writers, this only needs to be for a few minutes a day.  5-10 minutes of good, focused writing is plenty. This might be 1-2 sentences worth of copying.  They will probably still be writing on slightly larger ruled paper and will still benefit from a mid-line to help them position their letters correctly.

My son is at this stage, and the biggest challenge he has is focusing and truly writing his best for those few minutes.  Copywork should be written in a child's best handwriting (taking care with each letter), so if you find that your child is rushing or losing focus, you might want to reign back and focus on getting just 2-3 minutes of good writing and then work back up from there.

Sometime in this elementary stage, copywork can begin to become an independent task.  I'm not saying that you should not be aware of and involved in the process, but at some point your child will be doing the writing without you instructing over their shoulder.  Make sure that you do point out any mistakes after they are done writing so that they do not have an incorrect mental picture of the words they wrote.

Just like beginning writers, elementary writers can copy Bible verses and other sentences that will encourage them toward good behavior.  This would also be a good time to introduce copywork from their school studies: quotes from historical figures, passages of literature, poetry, etc.  Your child will most likely be able to read most (if not all) of the words in their copywork at this point.  You might want to read the sentence(s) to him, or have him read it to you before he begins to make sure they understand what he is writing.


Intermediate writers might be in upper elementary or middle school.  While copywork will still be for the purpose of improving handwriting, spelling, and grammar, at this stage it will increasingly be for exposure to great material, aiding in memorization, etc.

Intermediate writers should be able to write on normal sized lines and not tire after a few minutes of writing.  They should still take care to copy words and punctuation perfectly and will benefit from a short period (15 minutes?) of copywork each day.  Some students will find no problem copying words from the top of a page (or from a book) onto lines at the bottom of the page, but others will still need words written directly over each line.

Jimmie's Collage
A few sentences or even a short paragraph can be assigned and completed independently by your child.  You can check her writing afterwards or teach her to go back over it looking for any mistakes.

These growing minds can copy inspirational quotes, thought provoking ideas, beautiful poetry, Bible verses, historical accounts, etc.  Make sure you come back tomorrow when I share many ideas and resources for this stage.


Advanced writers might be in middle school or high school.  They will have no problem copying words from a book or the top of a page onto regular sized lines on a piece of paper or into their own notebook.  They should be grounded in their spelling, grammar, and handwriting.  Copywork at this stage is almost more for the purpose of immersing yourself in great writing and copying it as reinforcement and inspiration.

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Advanced writers do not need to do copywork everyday, but they certainly could!  You could encourage them to find one thing in their studies each day that is encouraging, inspiring, challenging, etc., and record it into a notebook that they continue to add to.  This sort of book would be a wonderful resource for them to look back on over the year (or years to come)!  Simply Charlotte Mason shares about this idea, calling it a Book of Mottoes.

These students could also use copywork as a way to capture ideas from a specific topic they are studying and keep them together in a notebook or binder with their other assignments on the subject.

These are just some suggestions as to how copywork might look for students at different ages.  I hope you have been encouraged that copywork can be a great and simple addition to your school routine.  Please come back tomorrow to find an great list of all kinds of copywork resources for every stage!  Also, if you missed yesterday's post What is Copywork? you might want to go back and read it too.

I would love to have a time of Q&A at the end of the week, so if any of this information leaves questions in your mind, feel free to leave a comment or send me an email and I will include it in the post on Friday.  If you use copywork with your children, I'd love to hear any personal stories or tips you might have!  I will include those on Friday too.

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

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  1. Copywork is one of the aspects of a CM education that I really love. We saw huge strides in handwriting and punctucation after we implemented this.

  2. We are still trying to work on handwriting. We have been trying to implement this every day but my 8 yo hates writing and it is a chore...hoping it will get better as well as his handwriting...Leah

  3. These are wonderful suggestions! Thank you so much for this post!

  4. Handwriting is an important communication skill! While many schools are opting to reduce or eliminate cursive handwriting instruction, we as homeschoolers can and should emphasize and develop both manuscript and cursive handwriting skills. Not only should students be able to write in cursive... they should also be able to read others' cursive handwriting. Thank you for sharing an interesting and informative article for various levels of writing.


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