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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Copywork: an assignment

Copywork

{an assignment}



Pippa's Song by Robert Browning

We actually pulled this exercise from Spelling Wisdom to coincide with our spelling list from Spell to Write and Read.  I love that Javen adds his personal touch to all his work.  This time drawing in the illuminated first letter.  He's very clever.

My rule for copywork is that it has to be a perfect copy the first time.  This includes spelling, punctuation and handwriting.  So, obviously I am careful in which passages I choose for them.  Normally they would have the selection right in front of them printed off the computer using a cursive font.  Today, since most of the words are words they have either had on their spelling lists or words that I thought they should have no problem with, we decided to do straight dictation.  I read the passage phrase by phrase (giving prompts where necessary).  They in turn wrote the passage down.  We are just beginning to do this and haven't done very much so I'm very proud of them!  This is not Javen's best work as far as neatness, but I was rather excited about his illumination!  :)  We got a double whammy with this selection as we were then able to discuss the poetry in a casual way, rhyme, repetition, etc.
"No work should be given to a child that he cannot execute perfectly, and then perfection should be required of him as a matter of course.  For instance, he is set to do a copy of strokes, and is allowed to show a slateful of all sorts of slopes and all sorts of intervals; his moral sense is vitiated, his eye is injured. Set him six strokes to copy; let him, not bring a slateful, but six perfect strokes, at regular distances and at regular slopes. If he produces a faulty pair, get him to point out the fault, and persevere until he has produced his task; if he does not do it to-day, let him go on tomorrow and the next day, and when the six perfect strokes appear, let it be an occasion of triumph. So with the little tasks of of painting , drawing, or construction he sets himself- let everything he does be well done. An unsteady house of cards is a thing to be ashamed of. Closely connected with this habit of 'perfect work' is that of finishing whatever is taken in hand. The child should rarely be allowed to set his hand to a new undertaking until the last is finished."
Charlotte Mason's Original Homeschooling Series - Vol. 1, pg. 160
We started with easy copywork from pretty young age.  In those earlier days my husband felt a lot more pressure to keep our kids on the level.  Anyone else have experience with this?  A husband who doesn't really get the whole more Charlotte Mason realm?  Well, he has loosened up somewhat as he sees the benefit of the 'education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.'  Bria (recently 7yo) in AOY1 has started copywork, but it isn't forced at all.  She does a lot of copywork apart from school entirely of her own initiative (writing letters, making play money and receipts, etc.).  I have not officially taught her handwriting yet.  Though over the last several months she has started to write on her own, having taken the last year to really master all the letters (we learn them in the form of the 70 basic phonograms a la SWR).  She is definitely learning by a more relaxed route.  We are still very much in the stage of fostering her love for learning.


How do you do copywork and dictation?  What age do you start?

9 comments:

MamaAngie said...

What a great quote from Charlotte Mason's writing. Doing things well, and finishing what I start is something that I still need to work on myself. I have so many unfinished projects in my craft room! I'm glad I have some time to work on this on myself before my kiddos official begin school.

Blossom said...

I love the illumination! Wonderful work. We have just started copywork and my kiddos are 10 & 13. They usually have atrocious handwriting! This is the only time I expect it to be 'perfect'. My ds has a very difficult time with that. We are alternating between a poem and George Washington's Rules of Civility. Both of my kids recently discovered how to 'make' their own country. My dd made a language for her country and after doing her copywork in English, proceeded to do it in Seac (the language of her country)!

Teresa said...

I am curious why you use the graph paper for writing? I LOVED graph paper as a kid. Just last week I bought a pack on a whim and my kids went nuts with excitement! I think they will love the idea of doing some writing on graph paper. Thanks!

Trisha said...

Amy,
What lovely copywork. I love the illuminated letter touch!

Spelling Wisdom has been on my "to buy" list for awhile. Are you pleased with it?

Richele said...

Oh, yes, the illumination is such a great touch - nicely done! We'll use Spelling Wisdom as well when my guys are a bit older - my sister gives it rave reviews.

We started copywork in Year 1 using Penny Gardner's Beautiful Italics. Never one of Max's favorites and this year we incorporated brush painting a few days a week in its place after seeing it on an original CM schedule. I posted on copywork and brush painting if you're interested.

Once Max found out Jemimah was learning "running letters" -- and he'd gotten some nice handwritten notes from his cousins -- he couldn't wait to start joining his letters. I got him a set of Staedtler calligraphy markers to let him use a few times a week as well.

I never push it either, Amy. He'll be eight in June so there is plenty of time.

Jeanne said...

I read this post yesterday and then got totally distracted by the Spelling Wisdom info in the SCM website.

How do you use this programme along with Spell to read and write? Why both?

Jemimah's spelling is pretty phonetic and terribly. AO starts studied dictation in AO4, but I'm tempted to begin using Spelling Wisdom this year AO3 instead. Jemimah is 8. What do you think? Should I wait?

Javen's writing is lovely IMHO - and the illuminated letter is da best!

Amy in Peru said...

@Blossom -
Yes, my 10yo has difficulty with the perfect work as well. But little by little as I have always insisted and do make him repeat it if not done well (this is not CM, I think :). He is learning that doing his best ONE time is better than having to do it several times ;) One thing that has helped him is to give him a time. For example, "I want this to take about 10 minutes so take your time." That helped him to slow down somewhat. Sometimes, he just races through thinking, 'oh well, I'll just fix my mistakes at the end'... we are working on this. I repeat, "I want you to take your time (at least 10 minutes) and not make the errors in the first place. Do your work perfectly the first time and only do it once!"

Wow. Another language is quite a task! That's pretty impressive. Aren't these childish fancies cool?

@Teresa -
We use graph paper because it is so readily available here in Peru :) They actually don't have loose leaf notebook paper here if you can believe that?! But, it is true that we can get notebooks with lines, my boys like the squares better though :) something different I guess. I do like the graph paper for math though. It really helps when lining up place value and the like.

thanks for your comment. it is fun to hear from friends :)

Amy in Peru said...

@Trisha -
Here's my .02 on Spelling Wisdom. It is a lazy mother's great friend ;) It would be somewhat simple to compile a similar thing for yourself for free. All it is really is copywork selections (well chosen), one per page. Each page has the quote or selection at the top of the page, and the rest of the page is blank with no lines (if the pages are intended for the child to write directly on, I ask, how do the kids keep it neat?! impossible). So, they can look at it for copywork at least, but that means it is not as meaty as it might seem. However, I do very much appreciate the index as every word on every page is indexed so that I can look up a specific word (that is on the spelling list, or that they are having particular trouble with) and have a selection about it. So, yes, I love it. But not for the reason you might have expected ;)

@Richele -
I can't wait to see your brush strokes! It sounds delicious!!

@Jeanne -
The way I do spelling is not totally CM, (though not against CM principles in my opinion). Spell to Write and Read is the way I was taught language arts when I was still but a young thing and I swear it is the best!! heheh. Well, I do think it among the best anyway :) But I also recognize the serious tool that copywork and dictation is in addition. SWR is a program to help my kids have the tools necessary to figure out word roots, rules for spelling when the come across words they are unfamiliar with.

Copywork/dictation is really for nailing down all those words in common use, while exposing to well written selections of literature. So for that I use Spelling Wisdom. I choose the SW selections based on what words are on their spelling lists each week. From SWR, they dictate 40 words a week and then do reinforcement exercises with them throughout the week and then are quizzed at the end of the week. Over the course of several years then they are introduced to the 1000 most common words in English. We use diagnostic tests each year for placement in the lists and so there is some spiraling going on. I love it. :) can you tell?! ;)

If she writes comfortably without much effort, I would DEFINITELY start already. We started about AOy4, I believe - but I have boys who were only just beginning to take off reading! She must be well versed in copywork, I should think, able to do a perfect copy on the first try? Choose short selections if it is tiresome to her. But I bet she would do fine! The key is to have her look at one word at a time until she can close her eyes and see it, then write it down. She might do a phrase if some of the words are easy. If this is something she can do easily, then by all means have at it!! But, again I am learning to relax and trust that all will come in time and that forcing things is definitely NOT worth the time or tears :) She'd probably be fine to wait as well, if you so choose. Mother knows best. :)

thanks friends for all the lovely discussion :)

Jeanne said...

Thanks, Amy. I shall investigate Spell to Write and Read first and then report back.

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