View Full Version : Copywork?

04-25-2013, 03:55 PM
OK, so I'm just starting to really hear about copywork. I have a few questions.

First what is it for exactly? Handwriting? Grammar? All of the above and more?

I'm wondering if it would help my son, he has dysgraphia, HATES to write, HATES to read, has working memory deficit and reading comprehension (due to the working memory). I feel his vocab is below avg also.

I don't have him write a lot because he hates it to much. I get it, I hate writing also, it cramps my hand and always has. But I've also got 36 years of practice and feel he needs to practice more.

So I wonder if I should have him do some short copywork? My hopes is that it can help improve comprehension and maybe some handwriting.

How do you "do" it exactly? How many sentences? I honestly couldn't see him writing more than a short paragraph with grumbling too much (he'll work himself into a panic attack if he thinks it's going to cramp his hands or "hurt his head").

I need a ton of assistance in this area!

04-25-2013, 04:18 PM
you can have him copy anything, tho - a paragraph from his favorite book. Its also supposed to help with punctuation and sentence formation. i first started copy work with my younger using jokes. we dont do it very regularly and he does complain bitterly . . .

04-25-2013, 04:54 PM
To help prevent hand cramping, try having him hold a pencil in his off hand while he's writing. It seems to reduce the tendency for a death grip on the writing implement. Foam pencil grips can help too, or you can make a custom grip with Crayola Model Magic. Wrap a blob of it around the pencil and have him hold it, which will squish it into the shape of his fingers. Then let it air dry.

From what I understand, to improve writing quality, even a few minutes every day or so will help, as long as it's done consistently and regularly. Quality over quantity too--one or two sentences, written as neatly as realistically possible, is better than more that gets rushed.

You could do something like find a short story, poem, article, etc. that he might like, and give him only one or two sentences each day to copy. If he gets interested in it, maybe it will encourage him to write more every day so he can get to the end.

04-25-2013, 05:29 PM
HA I wish he had a favorite book. It is impossible to get him to read. He can't remember what he reads, at all. At least in book form. He is a snippet learner, so things have to be taught in really no more than 15-20 min segments.

I bought him some special mechanical pencils that help a lot, I never thought of holding another in the other hand, very interesting!

I like the idea of jokes, maybe I'll start with that. Short, sweet and funny. He will do well with poems also. I think I'll get some Silverstein and have him start on that.

It just sucks, his lack of comprehension makes everything harder to learn with reading. :(

04-25-2013, 05:57 PM
We do copy writing once a week I think, I have my 8 year old do 1 paragraph/half a page and my 10 yr old to 2 paragraphs/full page. They usually copy something out of a science or history book according to what we are learning.

04-25-2013, 09:43 PM
OMG, we'd have full blown tears if I tried a full page! lol My daughter, 9, would totally do a whole page though. Go figure

04-25-2013, 09:53 PM
I was a copywork doubter. Really, I thought it was... not a waste of time, but not a great teaching tool. I think it was a case of knowing that it would have been torture for me when I was younger. But I'm a convert.

We no longer do much copywork. We do more dictation now. Usually about a comp book page - but with lines skipped and keeping in mind the size of an 8 yo's handwriting. It's usually three sentences or so.

04-26-2013, 01:53 AM
So how should I start do you think as far how much?

Technically he's in 5th grade but his reading comp/writing etc is definitely lower 4th, if not 3rd. (He'll be 12 in June).

I don't want him to hate it too much right off the bat. I know for a fact he will grumble, moan, whine and possibly put himself into an anxiety attack just by mentioning it. So should I just start with like 3 sentences and have him really focus on handwriting? He tends to capitalize where he shouldn't. He knows they aren't supposed to be there, he just prefers the upper case. For instance his sentence would look like this (not spaces well at all, that's the dysgraphia I think)...

I went to the Store to buY SOm Pickels

I don't even have to point out where they should be lower case, I just tell him to correct the capitals and spelling (not so good speller), he smiles, sighs, then corrects them. I say, what goes on the end, he said "period". So he knows, he tells me he knows, he says "I just don't want to, why do I have to. No one cares!". All while smiling in a nervous way. Ugh.

04-26-2013, 06:08 AM
We use the Arrow (http://www.bravewriter.com/program/language-arts-programs/the-arrow/already-published-issues), through Bravewriter. There are plenty of books still appropriate for his age, especially if he isn't a big reader and hasn't read them already, and you can order single copies to see if it will work for you. Not sure if it will fit your situation, but my DS gets a lot from them (I am a recent copywork convert too).

04-26-2013, 07:07 AM
We'll probably start as well with some dictation thrown in. I used to think it was a waste of time, but not so much now. They're going to be thrilled...

04-26-2013, 07:50 AM
I second The Arrow - we've used it some. It gives you a book to read aloud over the course of a month and four dictations from the book - one per week. It tells you how to teach the passage as well - how to teach about grammar and spelling and so forth using it. I would suggest using it as copywork one day, then dictation of just part of it to start on the next day - either just a sentence from it or by using her "French dictation" method and having him fill in the blank dictation it.

04-26-2013, 09:39 AM
We went with silly and fun for the purpose of handwriting only. Quotes, jokes,riddles etc. I Googled and found stuff and printed it on strips of paper. Put them in a jar for the child to pick out one per day. Over time the passages became a little longer. Yes, there was grumbling but it was minor and over time it helped handwriting a lot. Pulling slips from the jar added some degree of fun to it. You can also throw some odd stuff in there and keep it interesting.

04-29-2013, 07:08 PM
I would suggest this...have him do daily copywork, just a sentence or two for now, to work on the things you've mentioned he struggles with, handwriting, spacing, capitalization, spelling, etc. Have him copy this EXACTLY, with everything correct. Then let the rest of his writing go for now. I'm not saying have him stop writing altogether, he can still complete all the assignments you have him do already, but let the spelling, punctuation, etc go on those assignments. It will take the stress out of writing for him if he knows he only has to worry about doing the copywork correctly. Meanwhile, he IS getting practice on those things he needs to work on, just in smaller doses. Over time, he will pick up on the mechanics of writing, without being in tears over the amount.

04-29-2013, 08:53 PM
Wow, thanks for the question and answers. I had been wondering the same... but was afraid to ask. I figured I should know what the heck "copywork" was. Handwriting is really important to me, DH is really skeptical. I have told him it is one thing that I will go fist to cuffs for, even if it seems old fashioned my children will be able to write so that others can read it!

04-29-2013, 11:49 PM
Personally, I would do exactly what BarbaraH described. My priority would be to make it fun or silly and try my hardest to make it something to look forward to. Drawing from a hat or a jar is a great idea! I'd also go for *short* to start with.

In addition to jokes and riddles themselves, maybe after a couple of weeks you could add a fill-in-the-blank ending? Copy a short sentence or joke but leave a blank he could fill in with a punch line or whatever is funny to him? You could also do the blank Mad Libs style to try to garner a few more laughs.

Fun fun fun! That's what I would strive for!

Good luck!!!

04-30-2013, 01:32 AM
I just happened to be on the Bravewriter website. Here is what she has to say about copywork:

"For young kids, copywork can consist of list-making (birds theyíve seen, Christmas gifts they want, the Lego sets they hope to buy, the American girl doll items they want to collect, the tallest roller coasters in America, and so on). Or it can include short passages from a favorite rhyme, poem or bible verse.

Copywork ought not to cause pain or anxiety or anger. A child who finds it very difficult to write might only have the gumption to complete one word in a day (or even one letter!). If you follow the Brave Writer philosophy, youíll recall that we can build on one positive thing. We canít build if all is negativity. If your child is totally negative, then there is nothing to do. Play cards.

On the other hand, if your child can be encouraged to take a small step (write one letter, write the name of one bird, copy the title of one Lego set) and is then affirmed for taking that step, she will be more likely to try again the next time.

Your modeling is crucial here. Copywork must have meaning. It is not a discipline for the sake of school. It is a habit that ought to nurture both writing skills, but just as importantly, a childís sense of beauty in writing Identifying passages that have meaning and then saving them is a gift to self. Itís a form of journaling your life.

Here are some sure-fire ways to make copywork a special time of day rather than a schoolish-task:

Light candles or incense.
Clear the table of all extraneous materials/dishes/school books. Put a vase of flowers in the middle of the table.
Use clear plastic cookbook holders to hold the book open and upright.
Copy the passages into leather bound journals (or some other beautiful book with gilded edges).
Use fountain pens or gel markers on black paper. Alternatively, use fountain or calligraphy pens.
Write the passage on a clean sheet of white paper (while it is over a lined piece of paper so you can use the lines as guidelines) and then put the copywork in a clear page protector and keep it in a notebook.
Add artwork to a poem or passage.
Bring stationary or notecards to the table and suggest everyone write a letter to a beloved out of town family member that includes a favorite quote from a book. Be sure to provide novelty postage stamps. Sometimes just the chance to stick a cool stamp on an envelope is enough to catalyze interest in writing a note.
Make your own copywork book with your own paper and cover (hand-sew it together)."