Friday, April 18, 2008

Moving Toward Independence in Copywork (Copywork: Part Nine)

Recently, I posted that Charlotte Mason urged mothers to allow their children to choose their own passages for copywork. In Home Education, Miss Mason writes:

"A certain sense of possession and delight may be added to this exercise if children are allowed to choose for transcription their favorite verse in one poem and another."

How, practically speaking, can we make this work on a regular basis? I am sure there are all kinds of interesting and creative ways to organize a child's copywork selections. In fact, if you have a post related to this topic, I'd love to know of the link! :) In the hopes that this may help someone encourage their children toward ownership and a degree of independence in copywork lessons, I'd like to share something that worked very well for us this school year.

Ambleside Online has a copywork project available through Yahoo Groups. We have used the Year One suggestions (although, we did have to carefully review for typos). I set aside one evening at the beginning of the school year to copy these selections into a Word document, proofread them, and add a few selections from other books (from our free reading list). Then, I printed the pages out, hole punched them, and put them into a folder for my daughter. Oila! A folder for the whole year! The folder was divided into sections like Literature, Poetry, Shakespeare, History, etc. Then, I wrote out each of these section titles on a little slip of paper and put the slips of paper in a small plastic container on SweetP's copywork desk. Each morning, when copywork lessons rolled around, I would tell her that it was time for copywork and she would go to her desk and draw out a slip of paper. If it said, "Nature Study", for instance, she would then turn to that section of her copywork folder and find pages of copywork options that I had printed out. After copying the passage of her choice, she then brought it down to me.

I suppose for a younger child or a child not yet ready to write neatly alone, Mama could still let him choose his slip of paper and then choose his passage. She would then stay beside him and help him with the mechanics of writing. The passage would be of his own choosing, though, which is a pleasant thing for most children :)This is basically what I have done on our cursive days. SweetP is not independent in cursive, yet.

For the very beginning child who has just learned to write his alphabet and is new to copywork, it seems like a good idea for the mother to write out the passage in the child's view before the child copies it. For instance, when Shug begins copywork in June, she'll have just turned six years old. She writes well, but still needs guidance and help at times. I will reuse the same Year One folder for her, but she will choose smaller selections than her sister wrote (who was older when beginning Year One). I may say something like, "Choose a phrase with five or so words". Then, I would write the phrase down while she watched, and finally she would do the copywork with me there beside her. As she grows in ease and ability, hopefully she will eventually be independent with the folder like SweetP was.

Depending on the child, this independence may be reached by the end of Year One or much later. There is no set goal of when the child should be able to write his copywork neatly on his own. Isn't it a blessing to be able, as homeschooling parents, to plan for our children's unique strengths and personalities? Please know that I offer these examples as a way to help those who want to think through applying their own copywork ideas to their own families. There are so many wonderful ways to personalize this method for our children :)