Wednesday, December 14, 2016

What is Copywork? How do I use it? and an Example

What is copywork and when should I implement it?

In a Charlotte Mason approach to language arts, there are 4 levels. 

First, you simply read to and expose your child to a variety of excellent literature. 

Second, you ask the child to narrate, or tell back, that which was read to him. Much more realistic than a forced list of comprehension questions, this forces the child to process his thoughts. 

The 3rd level is copywork, which is simply copying over that which is front of you. While this sounds simple, the student must pay attention to even minor details, such as punctuation, spelling, capitalization, usage, mechanics, etc. This is why it is so important to choose excellent and varied material for copywork.

Dictation, the 4th level, which is implemented once a child finds copywork not much of a challenge, usually in the high school years, uses the same material, but instead of copying it over, the lesson is read aloud to the child, who must write it down directly from his processed thoughts. 

How to obtain the maximum benefit of doing copywork:
  1. Review the selection to be copied orally with your child, pausing at commas, more so at semicolons, and more finally at periods, etc.
  2. Tell the child that they may look at the selection to be copied over as many times as they wish, and make as many attempts at perfection as they need, but by the time they bring it to you to look at, all the punctuation, capitalization, etc. must be perfect, or they will have to erase the entire lesson and copy it over again the same day. 
  3. Follow through! Step #2 will take some determination with which to follow through, but it is the key to making copywork effective. Once your child has to go through this process once or twice, it is very unlikely that they will slack on this again, as they know the consequences they must face. This forces them to truly pay attention to every little detail in the material being copied. 

Adelle just finished copying a poem by Isaac Watts that was in her Copywork for Little Girls book.  She completed copying this poem in about 8 days and we then discussed what this poem meant and what Mr. Watts was saying.

                                    Against Pride in Clothes
                                    by Isaac Watts

                                    Why should our garments made to hide
                                    Our parents' shame, provoke our pride?
                                    The art of dress did ne'er begin
                                    'Til Eve, our mother, learned to sin.

                                    When first she put the covering on,
                                    Her robe of innocence was gone;
                                    And yet her children vainly boast
                                    In the sad marks of glory lost. 

                                    How proud we are, how fond to show
                                    Our clothes, and call them rich and new;
                                    When the poor sheep and silkworm wore
                                    That very clothing long before!

                                    The tulip and the butterfly
                                    Appear in gayer coats than I;
                                    Let me be dressed fine as I will,
                                    Flies, worms, and flow'rs exceed me still.

                                    Then I will set my heart to find
                                    Inward adornings of the mind;
                                    Knowledge and virtue, truth and grace,
                                    These are the robes of richest dress. 

                                    No more shall worms with me compare,
                                    This is the raiment angels wear;
                                    The Son of God, when here below,
                                    Put on this blessed apparel too.

                                    It never fades, it ne'er grows old,
                                    Nor fears the rain, nor moth, nor mold;
                                    It takes no spot, but still refines;
                                    The more 'tis worn, the more it shines. 

                                    In this on earth would I appear,
                                    Then go to heav'n and wear it there;
                                    God will approve it in His sight,
                                    'Tis His own work and His delight. 

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