Copywork using Charlotte Mason methods is an effective way for your children to learn essential language skills.
Because using copywork and narration is so different from how Language Arts are conventionally taught it can seem very difficult to the beginner. Copywork is really quite simple. The parent will choose a passage from a book that is familiar to the child. Many parents choose scripture or a paragraph from a book that the child is currently reading. It is important that the paragraph or sentence be at the child's level, challenging but not too difficult. As with all Charlotte Mason based instruction, the copywork lessons should be kept short and emphasize quality rather than quantity. The child will then copy the passage carefully, paying close attention to:
Any unfamiliar words should be looked up and defined with help from the parent.
Believe it or not, if you are teaching your child to write their letters or name you are all ready doing copywork. Using Charlotte Mason methods are actually the most natural way to teach. When you write the letter "A" and have your child copy it on a page you are using the same method as a parent giving an older student a paragraph of Shakespeare to copy. As your child becomes more adept at copying letters, then you will naturally move to words, sentences, and, finally, paragraphs and passages.
When a student becomes more confident in his language skills, by the seventh or eighth grade, it may be time to add dictation to the copywork routine. This will help the child refine his English skills and bring any weaknesses to light. Dictation can be done any number of ways but is generally scheduled over the course of a week:
- Monday-Give the student the copywork and have him read it carefully, checking for unfamiliar words.
- Tuesday- Have the student copy the passage.
- Wednesday-Dictate the passage to the student. You should read it slowly enough that he can transcribe it without too much trouble.
- Thursday-The written work should be checked for mistakes. Discuss the mistakes and explain why they were wrong. Look up grammar and spelling rules. The copywork should be rewritten correctly.
- Friday-Dictate the passage again while the student transcribes it.
Choosing Copywork Using Charlotte Mason
While you can choose passages from any book, you may feel more confident using paragraphs that others who are more familiar with this method have chosen. There are several copywork sources on the Internet:
Once you are comfortable choosing your own copywork you may find that it is easier for your child to write if you type it up in a large font and print it out. This way there will be less of a chance for your children to get confused by small print and close sentences. Make it as easy as possible for them to focus on the task at hand.
Teaching Foreign Language
Copywork, using Charlotte Mason's methods, can also be used to help a student who is learning a foreign language. He can increase his abilities in the language by:
- Copying vocabulary
- Copying phrases
- Copying sentences
- Copying paragraphs
- Translating as he copies
Copywork should not be dull. There are many ways to keep the lessons interesting:
- Choose interesting passages and sentences.
- Use different colored papers.
- Use gel pens and different colored inks.
- Give your child the opportunity to learn calligraphy and use it.
Copywork doesn't need to be done separately from other studies. It can be utilized in the course of almost anything that you are studying. Transcription works very well along with making lap books on different subjects, keeping a nature notebook, or making a history timeline notebook. Look for ways to add copywork to your curriculum and you will be pleasantly surprised at the improvement in your child's writing skills.
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