Posted by: angiefm | October 16, 2010

Copywork Demystefied

Have been SUPER busy the last few weeks.  TC was away for 2 weeks and single parenting in his absence just wasn’t fun.  😦 

Still busy today (I try to blog on Saturdays), so I thought I would do this one quick post on copywork which has been at the back of my mind for AGES!

In our homeschool, in learning English, our children do not do spelling lists like they do in school.  Nor do they do workbooks (yikes!), or for the first few years write compositions.  Charlotte Mason’s methods are different.  In a nutshell, for English, we read great books, do copywork/dictation, and require narrations. 

Today I would like to blog a little about copywork.  In fact I have to blog only A LITTLE because I just read a post from on the same topic and decided to ride on it, because Sonya has explained it all so clearly and concisely and even posted a video on how to do it, that there is little else to add.  The blog post can be found here:

What I did want to add was our own copywork selections, so that if you are inspired after reading Sonya’s blog, you can just download ours and get started!  I only had time to clean up the one our kids use in K2 or Primary 1.  Before that age, we do not do much “seatwork”.  I will post the selections for older children in the coming weeks.

If you want to read more about copywork, I have an older post on the topic here.

What to do with the Selection

There are 100 copywork selections in this file or 25 weeks’ worth since we typically do copywork 4 days in a week and leave the 5th for journalling.  Each week’s selection starts with a Bible verse.  If you are not a Christian and take those out, you’ll still have 75 you can use.  🙂 

What you will want to do is to read each day’s selection with your child.  Explain, highlight new words, discuss meaning, answer questions your child may have.  Talk about punctuation, capitalisation, spelling of unusual (non-phoenetic especially) words, etc.  No hard and fast rule.  It’s all done very casually.  Where the selections are longer, I have put in bold the words I want them to write, but left the rest in there for context.  My rule of thumb is whatever they can reasonably complete in 10 mins of focused writing.  Any more is pushing it.  So feel free to vary the lengths for your child according to his/her ability.

You can also extend it by having your child memorise selections – a Bible verse, a poem, etc.   Memory work is great for this age and they learn so fast!

Remember to insist on their very best handwriting.  And no mistakes.  Sit there with them and be sure to cover up any mistakes made or preempt by stopping them in mid-word if you see a mistake coming up, and asking them to look again at the word before writing it.

Be inspired!

They improve so much during the course of a year that they will probably go from copying letter by letter, to copying word by word and then phrase by phrase.  Let them dicate the speed at which they progress, but they should get to copying whole words and not letter-by-letter quickly because that’s where the real value is.  Once they start seeing the whole word, their spelling will automatically be taken care of.  We have never done spelling lists in this house and our kids spell well.  All credit to copywork!

And copywork can be so inspiring!  Select that which is worthy of thought.  It is amazing how many times my children have quoted copywork selections to illustrate a point.  Like recently, Alethea told Tim, “Whether you think you can, or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.”  And Tim said, “Hey!  I did that for copywork!”  Actually, since we use the same selections over and over again, our children have lots to share! 

When we were in New Zealand almost 3 years ago, we were sitting in the shadow of a building and the kids were feeling chilly, so Alethea stepped into the sunlight, stood there a while and said, “This reminds me of something I wrote for copywork: ‘It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light and winter in the shade.'”   It was a Charles Dickens quote!

PRICELESS!  I hope this inspires you to start using copywork with your children!


If you download the file and use it, I would love to hear your feedback on it.  And if you find a mistake in the spelling, please send me a comment to let me know so I can update the file for future downloaders.  Remember we are looking for BRITISH spelling here, not American.  🙂  Looking forward to reading your comments!


  1. Angie, thank you for the copywork file you put on your blog! This is just what I am looking for. It teaches bible verses, idioms and poetry, and all is laid out for my use! Thank you so much. I am looking forward to the file for the older children. I find it is difficult to choose selections, especially one for everyday.

  2. This is excellent! I’ve not done formal copywork with my daughter yet, and always wondered if it is worthwhile to do copywork, cos it can sound rather boring sitting down copying a passage. But I can see how this will help with learning how to focus etc, not just penmanship.

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. Oh, one question I have for copywork is – do we have to make the child write repeatedly or just once? If so, how many lines is sufficient?

    • Hi Weiz. Just have them write once. But write as perfectly as they can both in terms of penmenship as well as accuracy of spelling/punctuation. Most things in the Charlotte Mason style of education happen once. 🙂 Repetition is thought to make children complacent and poor listeners because they know they will get a second chance to do something, or a second chance to hear it repeated. So just once. But once attentively and to the best of their abilities. This trains attention as well.

  4. Hi Angie, many many thanks for sharing the copywork file so generously. It is exactly what i was looking for 🙂 It must be tough to select a passage for everyday! *salute*

  5. Hi Angie,

    That was really useful !

    i’m not a homeschooler but will see how my 6 year old takes to these writing assignments.


  6. Hi Angie,

    Thanks once again for sharing. The best thing is that it is ready to use.

    It’s what I need right now as I am spending all my time with my eldest son in preparation for his school exams. My second son, Winston, whom I homeschool, is usually playing on his own during school exam time – makes me feel very guilty and sorry for him. Boredom time is necessary for children’s development, but too much of it?

    You have also inspired me to include Chinese idioms and sayings in our regular Chinese copywork. This saves a lot of heartaches in later years when the children have to memorise these in school.

    Looking forward to more of this for the older children!

    Thanks once again.

  7. Thank u for sharing. Going to China next mth, need anything from there?

  8. Thanks for sharing the copywriting file. It will be a very useful holiday learning kit for my girl. Thanks a bunch!! 🙂

  9. Kudos to you for getting through 2 weeks of single parenting:) I’m so glad my hubby doesn’t have to travel…..I wouldn’t know how I’d handle it when I come to that stage:P
    Anyways, thanks so much for sharing your “copywork wisdom”. Just one question….do you have to read through all your kids’ books to select the right transcript or do you just pick and choose from any book? How do you come up with the layout for the entire 25 weeks?

    • I just make them write what I like. 🙂 To make it easy, I go on rotation – Bible verse, an idiom, an aesop’s fable, a poem, a line from a good book … REPEAT. But yes, up to last year, I was reading every single book with my kids! 🙂 This year got a bit crazy, and Alethea’s reading has taken off like nobody’s business, so I haven’t been able to keep up recently. We really enjoy our books, so when particular lines fascinate us, we remember them. Or at least we remember which part of the book they were from and can generally find it again. Hope that helps!

  10. Hi Angie
    Cant seem to download the file now ?

  11. Hi, Angie, Thank you so much for sharing. I let me girl try for a few days, and it is workable for her. We all think it is easy job, just copying. But she started to notice her own careless mistakes, and penmanship.

    I ponder this is really good, why not extend this method to the Chinese learning. I asked my girl to do a line of Chinese copy work from the 三字经 below the English copy work this week.

    Thank you again for sharing! Best regards

  12. Hi Angie,

    Your copywork file is a God-send and a timely one too! I have been pondering on how to get started. I will definitely be using it! Thanks!

  13. Hi Angie!

    I hav been reading your blog and sharings for a while. I hav visited your home library before you moved and bought Five in a row books from you when we decided to homeschool our kids in their preschool days. Now they are in public schools but I missed those homeschoolong days thus hav been reading what you hav been during with your kids.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences and your files!

    Hope you’ll continue to write when your family has settled in Montreal! God bless you and your family!

    With His Blessings
    Siu Yen

  14. Hi Angie,
    Thanks for your generosity! I have always wondered how you incorporate copywork into your daily schedule and sustain the kids’ interest in it. I will definitely use your copywork selections on my youngest.

    God bless your family’s stay in Montreal. Take care!


  15. […] what I wrote earlier about copywork, but if you are new to it, you can read my previous posts here and […]

  16. Wow, this post was 10 years ago! Thank you for this copy work. God bless your generosity.

    • Oh my! And it’s still “findable”! 😆

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