Friday, September 10, 2010


A few weekends ago I was found contemplating copyworkdictation, and an english book (three actually) the entire weekend long. Really, I was. So much so that Mr S must have heard my laments about a thousand times, and then in total desperation I said, "Why on earth haven't you given me any feedback on this topic?" His reply was simple, "I don't know enough about any of it to be able to do, besides I know you'll pick the best option and all will be well." He said this oh so calmly while chopping up raw meat. (Yes, he helps regularly in the kitchen, except when I'm making Lemon Meringue pies.) 

You see, I was completely undecided on which approach to take. I didn't really want to fork out for an English Program/book that might take 2 weeks - 3 months to show up. By the time it did show up I would most likely be incapable of returning it due to shipping time. Then there would also be narrowing down between three different, but extremely simple, English programs. 

What I really wanted to do, and have had every intention of doing, was dictation. However, there were a few catches there. I have one child who spells everything phonetically, unless he's in a hurry. Then I'm not exactly sure what method or rule he uses to spell things by, but it isn't pretty. The other one has terrible handwriting because he's not keen on sitting still for very long, and writing in small spaces pains him deeply. There were a few other things that were throwing me for a loop (most of which I honestly can't remember right now..) and so after a bit of research I discovered that dictation isn't recommended until the fourth grade level.

So that led me right back to copywork, a place I'd been that entire weekend. Which led me to ask some questions on a homeschool message board I frequent. I was grateful for input from fellow homeschooling mothers who use copywork in one form or another. It also made me aware that while I had been doing copywork (a couple of times a week) my method might not have been the best, especially for my child with poor handwriting. This led me to another day of thinking and contemplating. Sometimes, my mind is a scary place to be!

After two days of debating, and really coming down to the wire, I decided that copywork was the route we were going to continue with. Again, copywork isn't new to my kids. They generally copy one or two Bible verses a week, but instead of copying what they see they actually trace the letters. While this has it's time and place my boys were clearly ready to move beyond that, especially my sloppy writer.

In the end I decided to type up the boys copywork sentence of the day and skip a spaces so they could honestly copy it while having it right in front of them to view the whole time. This means when one child says, "He's being too noisy and it's making me write sloppy." the child with the complaint can pick up his work and leave the room. Yes, it happens daily..

The boys aren't exactly jumping up and down for copywork, but they do it diligently and for that I'm grateful. However, I probably haven't been as diligent about correcting everything with them on it as I want. I've also noticed that for my sloppy writer he needs to do less then a whole sentence in a day. I can always tell when he's started to get tired because there's a dramatic difference in the effort he's done.

What I will say about copywork thus far is that it's brought up many chats about basic grammar. Most of which were spurred by Morgan explaining when and why we use things like periods, question marks, quotes, and commas. I was impressed he knew as much about it as he did. All though I will admit, I'm often pointing them out to him when we read, he loves to read with expression so helping him understand what all the punctuation means helps him with that want.

Im pretty sure that just as much as the kids have a learning curve with things, so do I. This is one of them. I'm still constantly reading various sources about the topics, and the more I read the more I see where we can change things slightly. In the mean time I'm eager to see how it helps the with the exact reasons we've decided to go this route.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, that's not a poorly bound book! Our Morgan is a lefty and because of that I bound his copywork book "backwards" in order to make it easier for him to do his very best work in. I've actually considered buying him a few lefty notebooks because he really does love to write. (In fact, the weekend I spent debating these choices he was busy leaving us coded messages all over. No, joke. Even Mr S's Father's Day card came encrypted last weekend! I had to explain to poor Mr S that he didn't need to read half the words and letters which clearly made no sense.. This, my friends, is what happens when your children have a huge passion for learning.) For now I've bound him one and may consider not printing on the backs of each page so that he has no need to worry about the binding ever being in his way.

I also stuck a few blank pages in the back of their copywork notebooks so they could use them to practice on anytime they wanted.  Lastly, for now I've chosen all the quotes they have worked on, but I've chosen ones I think they'd really enjoy. For instance, our very first day they wrote out, "No one's perfect, that's why pencils have erasers." A few days later when Morgan was stressed about something not being perfect, I simply said, "I know kiddo, that's why pencils have erasers!" A dawning smile spread across his face and he moved on.

The two quotes pictured above were chosen because each child needed one of them. One doubts himself a lot, he's a worrier and a thinker. When I saw the Christopher Robin quote it made me think of him and how much he often needs reassuring on everything, and that quote just screamed his name. The other child is often easily led astray in his work. He's been known to "forget" he was suppose to be getting dressed and found neck deep in some form of play. I found it ironic that not only did the quote remind me of him, but it's also written by one of his favorite people from the past! 


Jamie said...

My son(9 1/2)hates Reading and Writing.Copywork is very painful around here.I have been trying to find some interesting quotes or things to use for this area.He is also a LEFTY so this makes it that much harder.We should be writing cursive but he just isn't there yet.How did you find your copywork?

Morgan said...

Have you considered binding it across the top? This way you could print from and back to save paper, but the spine would never be in the way. You can sometimes find full sized notebooks like that, but it's hit or miss. (Fellow lefty here).

Also, what did you use to type up you pages?

Renelle said...

That's fantastic Kendra. You've put alot of work into it and in choosing your quotes....better than anything you could buy and more meaningful to your kiddo's.I've started something similar (not ready yet) but did it on landscape and bind at the top (the long edge)Seems to be alot easier to manage with kids who fatigue with handwriting.We use the
As usual you are on the ball and extremely well organised. Have a good one, Renelle

Kendra said...

Jamie, I simply did a google search for quotes. A lot of stuff comes up and I pick and choose what we want. The link I left for copywork gave the idea of using a different theme for each day of the week. I like that too.

Morgan, we use the program called StartWrite. The website is flashy, but the program is very simplistic and "old", but it does the job beautifully. I did consider binding over the top, but hadn't worked it out yet.

I think Renelle gave the perfect solution which is to print in landscape so that he's never effected by the binding! Thanks for that idea Renelle! :D

And just for your laughing pleasure, I'm going to state that I'm insulted I have to use the word verification and log in to post a comment on my own blog! lol

Lori said...

I love your ideas!! :)