Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Out of Sight, Out of Mind (Copywork: Part Six)

There are so many wonderful articles and blog posts about copywork in the Charlotte Mason method that I really had to wonder if there was much of a point in adding to the collection. There has been some good discussion on these copywork posts, though, and I've enjoyed the mini-study. I hope you all have as well :)

Just when you thought I couldn't possibly squeeze another post out of those few transcription pages in Home Education, here I am with Copywork Part V. I think, though, that it might possibly be helpful to someone if I share how we have successfully used the small, lined dry erase boards like the one in the photo above. Especially when first introducing letters (printed or cursive), we've used these little boards a lot! I bought my first one at Office Depot, but recently I bought another just like it at Wal-Mart for less than $3! They have been one of our most frequently used homeschooling items :)

So, how do we use them for CM? Charlotte Mason suggested using blackboards and chalk liberally when first introducing new letters for a child to copy. Her reasoning was that poorly formed letters must be quickly erased so the child could try and try again for that "perfect" letter. Like a misspelled word, a poorly formed letter is a visual insult to the child's eye. To prevent the image of the incorrect letter from making an impression upon the child's mind, faulty letters must be quickly "rubbed out". Now, erasing again and again with a normal pencil eraser is tiring to say the least and makes a complete mess of your paper. Even if the child does manage to finally arrive at that elusive perfect letter at the end of ten minutes, there might be holes in the paper from all of his previous efforts! ;) With the dry erase board, it just wipes away :)

When we are really first beginning to learn letters, we use the unlined side of the dry erase board. Without lines to worry about, the children are able to focus on the strokes. Once the strokes are learned fairly well, we switch to the lined side of the board. By the way, I have several colors of low odor dry-erase markers, and my girls love to choose which color they'll use for writing. Not sure if every child would get such a thrill from doing their handwriting in blue, purple, or red, but it works in our house! :)

There is only one drawback that I can think of to using the dry-erase board. You have nothing to keep! If one of my little students has been doing well and I'd like a copy to keep, we do a few beginning lessons on paper as well. It really hasn't taken us long to move to paper altogether, though, and then the "keepsakes" really start piling up :) With SweetP's cursive, we only use the dry erase board here and there as we introduce new letters or especially tricky ones. She has used paper far more than the dry erase board for cursive, but it has still been handy when introducing strokes.

There you have it :) It's worked well for us, and I hope helps someone else.