Memorization. Analog clocks. Poetry. Penmanship. Times Tables. Phonics. The Bible.
These are obsolete. Or so we have been told. The studies are in and they say these things are not beneficial to children. They don’t increase test scores. They are actually burdensome to students – filling their heads with useless facts and knowledge. Thus, they must be excised from education.
Good thing we decided to homeschool our kids. Now I get to do all the old-fashioned, unworthy-of-my-time activities I want to. I can ignore the studies and the tests. I can fill my little learner’s heads with goodness, truth, and beauty.
One of the many time-worn practices now considered passe by public school teachers is cursive. Cursive is no longer necessary because of computers. What we need to teach our kids is typing – the better the word-speed, the smarter the kid, right?
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On Cursive Copywork
In my opinion, cursive and cursive copywork are some of the simplest ways to bring truth, goodness, and beauty into the hearts and minds of my children.
The effect of the written word, written beautifully, is positive. (There are studies to support that, too.) There is thought required – more thought than that done whilst typing. Kinesthetic learning is also happening when a pen scrawls across a page.
And copywork requires something unique in learning. It requires reading, internalizing, and then synthesizing. I like the way Andrew Pudewa described in his lecture “Mastery Learning.” He spoke of the writer “taking in” the words and the words becoming part of them, passed through the eyes, the brain, and out through the hands. It reminded me of Jeremiah 15:16,
Your words were found and I ate them, And Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart;NASB
For I have been called by Your name,
Do you see how Jeremiah responds to the word of God? Searching for it, finding it, eating it – taking it into his very soul. And the result? Joy! Delight!
We give our children a small part of this when we encourage them to cursive copywork. If you are interested in more information about the “science” of copywork and cursive, Andrew Pudewa’s talk “Paper and Pen” is excellent!
Our approach to Copywork
We have, in order: two girls, a boy, and another girl. I say that to say I have noticed my girls are more interested in writing, in coloring, in anything having to do with a writing instrument of some sort. It seems almost inborn. My boy – not so much.
When we started homeschooling, I had kids who would scribble across page after page of paper writing “letters to Grandma” dictating each word as they went. The resulting “letters” were not even letters, not even a letter. They were clear pictures of pre-writing interest on the part of my girls.
I took our first student as ready for writing instruction and started teaching her manuscript first. She took to it and has beautiful, if tiny, handwriting to this day. Her interest in cursive writing led me to start teaching her cursive in second grade. Again, she is a proficient cursive writer.
We worked through the Primary Arts of Language: Writing with our second student, who needed a bit more help with beautiful handwriting. She has over time developed a lovely manuscript form. And she is already trying to teach herself cursive from the Cursive chart we have on our school wall.
I believe copywork to be so important that I include it in our everyday schedule. It is the “default” activity for my students during our rotations. That means when they are out of the rotation, and have completed the task assigned to them, they can return to their copywork until it is again their “turn.” For more information about the relaxed schedule that works for us, read this article.
In previous years we have used The Good and the Beautiful’s Handwriting books. This year, we are changing it up a bit.
A Cursive Copywork Journal
This year our selections for copywork will come primarily from the Prescripts notebooks from Classical Conversations. I decided it would be good for my kids to reinforce the memory work they are learning throughout the week through copywork.
Since I have four current or potential students working through copywork notebooks, I needed to figure out a way to save money. I cannot continue to buy consumable products – it is just too expensive. So I invested this year in the Prescripts for Math Terms, American Documents, Scripture, and Poetry. We literally have copywork material for years! I also picked up IEW’s Cursive Knowledge handwriting course to help my beginning cursive students. It has detailed letter formation activities, which I prefer to some of the other resources.
Then I created some simple Copywork Journals for my kids. I wanted them to have a special place to put their copywork that would be lasting. And since I want them to fill their Copywork Journals with truth, goodness, and beauty, I have created some simple schedules for them.
They will follow a topic-per-day schedule, using a 4-day week. My “advanced” cursive student will be working on making her letters consistently beautiful. Her “beginner” cursive sister will work on learning to form the cursive letters. And the little guy will be working on early, pre-writing activities.
Since my students love to draw, I included some blank pages throughout their journals. This gives them a place to work on some of the art prompts included in the Prescripts workbooks.
If you are interested in getting free downloads of either of the Copywork Journal covers or the Advanced Copywork Schedule, they are available to my Shop.
I am so excited about these Copywork Journals for my kids! My oldest two students squealed with delight when they saw the covers! I let them pick out the color of their covers and they cannot wait to start school so they can use them!
The nitty-gritty details on these journals:
- I included 75 front back handwriting lined pages (from Cursive Knowledge’s extras).
- The order is 2 lined pages, 1 blank page
- I had them spiral bound at Office Depot.
The amount of time necessary for copywork each day varies based on the samples of copywork. So how does one evaluate progress? Well, we evaluate our copywork by two things:
- accuracy, and
Notice, I didn’t mention a time limit for copywork. I actually don’t care if pages and pages are done each day. Actually, the time limit thing doesn’t work for us because of our rotation schedule.
What I focus on are accurate beautiful letters. Once a student has completed the copywork assignment, I take the time to evaluate it as soon as possible, with her by my side. I encourage my students by taking time daily to fawn over the beautiful, together. We take turns deciding which is our favorite letter. Or discuss how a particular letter looks like it was “printed on a printer!” Delighting in the progress my students are making helps to avoid the sense of drudgery sometimes associated with this practice.
I hope this article has encouraged you in your pursuit of copywork in your homeschool. If you have any questions, I would love to be a resource for you. Ask in the comments below.