“The earliest practice in writing proper for children of seven or eight should be, not letter writing or dictation, but transcription, slow and beautiful work…” – Mason, Vol. 1, p. 238
Transcription is copywork. Often it is just something we do quickly and check off our list. But it shouldn’t be. When we do our Work at Table, I remind myself to take a breath and slow down. Then I remind my children to take their time and do “slow and beautiful work” with their copywork.
Mason had some other ideas that I don’t see mentioned very often when it comes to copywork. One is that the student should look at the word, visualize it in their mind’s eye, and then try to write it from memory. This takes time!
be encouraged to look at the word, see a picture of it with their eyes
shut, and then write from memory. – Mason, Vol. 1, p. 238
Above is a favorite copywork resource, The Boy’s Book of Verse by Helen Dean Fish . It is, of course, perfectly appropriate for girls, too. My 15 ds is presently copying “Ultima Ratio Regum” by Stephen Spender. Read the one review at Amazon for a great endorsement. Which leads to my next point about letting the student select his own copywork.
Mason tells us to let the child choose the verse that he likes. Mason tells
us that if you make them always write the entire poem, it will “stale”
upon the children. It’s as if the copywork is almost to be thought of
like a commonplace entry…or a nature notebook entry…or a Book of
Centuries entry… – the student’s own choice.
sense of possession and delight may be added to this exercise if
children are allowed to choose for transcription their favourite verse
in one poem and another. This is better than to write a favourite poem,
an exercise which stales on the little people before it is finished.
But a book of their own, made up of their own chosen verses, should
give them pleasure. – Mason, Vol. 1, p. 238
Suppose we did our work
like the snow, quietly, quietly,
leaving nothing out.
P.S. – Jen Spencer brought this interesting technique idea to my attention. Mason suggests that the student should, from the beginning, hold the pencil between the first and second fingers, steadying the pencil with the thumb. This would seem to indicate that the pen would then sit comfortably between the knuckle of the middle and the index finger.
It would be a great gain if children were taught from the first to
hold the pen between the first and second fingers, steadying it with
the thumb. This position avoids the uncomfortable strain on the muscles
produced by the usual way of holding a pen––a strain which causes
writer’s cramp in later days when there is much writing to be done. – Mason, Vol. 1, p. 239
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