18 Sep 2008

Early Copywork

Copywork is more than just learning to form letters. It exposes kids to good sentence structure, rich vocabulary and noble thoughts. It teaches basic grammar - punctuation and capitalisation.

In order to do this though, children must copy fine literature - poetry; scripture; or passages from beautifully written books that they have read. Creative writing is not the same as copywork.

We do copywork every day for a few minutes. At first we concentrate on the physical skills - holding the pen; posture; perfect letter formation. For this stage we use the New Wave Handwriting copybooks.

We use the Victorian version pictured above - they are available for all Australian state fonts.

Charlotte Mason recommended A New Handwriting by Monica Bridges.

Some years ago I heard of a lady who was elaborating, by means of the study of old Italian and other manuscripts, a 'system of beautiful handwriting' which could be taught to children. I waited patiently, though not without some urgency, for the production of this new kind of 'copy-book.' The need for such an effort was very great, for the distinctly commonplace writing taught from existing copy-books, however painstaking and legible, cannot but have a rather vulgarising effect both on the writer and the reader of such manuscript. At last the lady, Mrs Robert Bridges, has succeeded in her tedious and difficult undertaking, and this book for teachers will enable them to teach their pupils a style of writing which is pleasant to acquire because it is beautiful to behold. It is surprising how quickly young children, even those already confirmed in 'ugly' writing, take to this 'new handwriting.

From Home Education (Volume 1) by Charlotte Mason, pages 236-238

Although the style is very attractive, I wasn't too keen on using this method - the idea of writing out each day's selection in my poor handwriting did not fill me with enthusiasm - Jemimah would be learning my handwriting style, not the beautiful hand of Mrs Bridges!

A search of fonts on the computer brought me to realise that our very own Victorian font was one of the closest to Mrs Bridges' handwriting on the market- how convenient!

The New Wave Handwriting course provides books from Prep - Year 6. We only used the first two books, concentrating on letter formation but will probably look at a later book to learn speed loops as necessary. In these early stages copywork is merely letter formation practice - first by perfectly forming each letter and later by copying words. We did half a lesson - a page - each day, about five minutes worth. The books also come with the necessary handwriting chart which we removed and posted above the desk for easy reference - q, v,x and z take a while to learn!

At the end of the second New Wave book we moved on to transcribing literary examples. For this we use a favourite poem or occasionally a memory verse. We have also coied some definitions from Jemimah's morning devotional.

We purchased the Victorian fontware from School Fonts: http://www.schoolfonts.com.au/, allowing us to create our own lined sheets in various sizes. We start using 48 point.

We do copywork four days a week. On Fridays we decorate the border of the sheet using textas, coloured pencils, stickers and pictures. This keeps it fun, and inspires Jemimah to keep her writing as perfect as possible.

We also write short amounts at other times - a label for a nature study page, or a birthday card, for example. No poorly executed letters are allowed. Each word must be done perfectly.

The finished sheets are stored in a looseleaf folder until the end of the year when they are bound into a beautiful book with a lovely front cover illustrated by Jemimah. A new book begins in the new year!!

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