Friday, October 23, 2015

Copywork in Grade Two

"I can only offer a few hints on the teaching of writing, though much might be said. First, let the child accomplish something perfectly in every lesson--a stroke, a pothook, a letter. Let the writing lesson be short; it should not last more than five or ten minutes. Ease in writing comes by practice; but that must be secured later. In the meantime, the thing to be avoided is the habit of careless work--humpy m's, angular o's." Charlotte Mason, Home Education, p 253, emphasis mine. 


The above is the result of a typical copywork lesson right now for SA(7). Three little words, done in five minutes of effort. He prints fairly neatly, but not with ease. Aside from his daily copywork lesson and some numbers in his math book, he writes little to nothing. I worry about this sometimes, particularly when I notice the achievements of others around his age, or even his younger brother JJ(5).

When I was eighteen and in driver's ed, the classroom instructor said something that stuck with me. Some people learn to drive quickly and with ease, while others take more time and effort to master it. What matters is proficiency in the end, not how long it takes to get there. 

My aim is for SA to learn to write beautifully and with ease. This is not a race. It is not a competition with other seven-year-olds. If it takes him years to get to that point, it will be okay. 

Meanwhile, he takes five minutes out of each school day to do his very best printing. He has his bad days, where his pencil "accidentally" makes stray marks and mis-shapen letters. We erase and go on the next day. He does not hate copywork. He is not frustrated. It is enough for now.

There have been two or three times in the last month that he has voluntarily copied something or written something down, and I take that as a hopeful sign. It may be that he will experience a sudden jump in ability someday, as he did with reading last year. It will not be the first time slow, steady, daily effort has laid the foundation for such a leap.

I am very happy with Charlotte Mason's method of oral narration (telling back what has been read aloud) for the younger grades. Because of this, his learning is not tied to his reading and writing skills. He is growing in his composition and communication abilities, and someday his manual writing skills will catch up.

If you are curious, we use Penny Gardner's Italics: Beautiful Handwriting for Children