In a nutshell, copywork is copying down an extract from another source, such as a good poem or a selection from a book or even from the Bible. The idea is that a child can practice writing neatly, can learn from a good example about punctuation, spelling, and grammar, and can do so in context (in other words, in a realistic setting and not as a list of random words, or as a fill-in-the-blank workbook).
Recently, a friend of mine with a boy the same age was asking me about how much should be expected of her son, as she and her husband were nearly coming to blows about the number of words they were making the child write down every day, and the child was coming unglued because it seemed too much for him.
|Try to make writing a pleasant experience|
His older sister used to devour the Getty-Dubay series of handwriting workbooks, and Killer never touched them.
He finally agreed to some handwriting practice when I bought Teodorescu's excellent book called Write from the Start (though, if you look it up, you'll see there's much more about shapes and doodles and fluid lines than there is about letters per se).
Never the less, this year I decided to leap into AO properly and expect him to undertake copywork. I decided to use Joyce Herzog's Bible Quotes, which I've owned for years but hadn't dusted off in a while.
I was slightly worried that she starts off in such a basic way, but considering my son was writing practically nothing last year, and was stuck in an all-caps rut, I decided softly-softly might be the best approach. Here, for example, is his first entry for copywork in September 2011.
Writing nearly every day, and letting his handwriting develop organically with, perhaps, occasional side-by-side discussions of how to make letters flow together more smoothly, this is how he's writing in May 2012:
Therefore, I want to encourage you if you currently have a non-writer. Little and often. Patience. It isn't about quantity, but about quality, and letting the child have a pleasant experience while he or she is doing it so they don't baulk at this amazing and wonderful opportunity to learn to write organically.