Copywork Jumpstarts Your Child’s Spelling

by Sheila Carrol
Guest Contributor

Homeschool families know the value of good penmanship and many introduce copywork as an aid to good writing. But, did you know that copywork can also help your child be an outstanding speller?

What is Copywork?

Copywork is copying out by hand from a written source. The value of copywork is to instill the mechanics of great writing. Children learn proper grammar, spelling and phrasing through copying great literature. Charlotte Mason, a British educational reformer, recommended the use of copywork as a beginning point for spelling.

Charlotte Mason and Copywork

Charlotte Mason saw transcription as an introduction to spelling. Children are encouraged to look at the word, see a picture of it with their eyes shut, and then write from memory. Plain and simple, this was the means she used.

Charlotte Mason encouraged educators to allow the child to choose his own passages because it gives him a sense of possession and delight.(Home Education, p. 238)

How does it help my child spell?

When reading, the eye slides over the word. For copywork, a child must slow down and analyze the individual words in order to transcribe correctly. In the process the child sees the word as it is, that is correctly and it makes an impression on the mind the will be brought up when the need arises to spell.

Is copywork different from penmanship?

Penmanship is the first step in copywork. A child learns to form each letter through practice. Then, when doing copywork, letter practice is the primary goal. Second is to use well-written, high-quality quotes from literature to inspire and delight.

Is copywork only for penmanship practice?

Yes. It begins as letter formation practice. Once these are mastered, it is for exposure to the best in writing. Copywork done properly forces a child to slow down and absorb the punctuation details, notice capitalization, and internalize sparkling prose.

When should I start copywork with my child?

When your child has begun to master basic writing, usually seven or eight, is a good time to begin.

What are the very best sources for copywork?

  • Bible
  • Shakespeare
  • Books of poetry
  • Lively, well-written prose
  • Science writing that is descriptive and inspirational
  • Hymns
  • Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations (for quotes by topic).
  • Quote in a foreign language being studied

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sheila Carroll helps homeschooling parents use living books and Charlotte Mason’s methods to produce outstanding results in learning.

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One response to “Copywork Jumpstarts Your Child’s Spelling

  1. Love this post. A highly underrated skilled shunned by the ‘modern’ education system. Soon enough your kids might be the only ones left who know how to spell (not type).

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