Copywork/Dictation - Benefits? Resistance?

Copywork, Cursive, Dictation, Grammar, Handwriting, Letter Writing, Memory Work, Narration, Read-Alouds, Spelling, Vocabulary, & Writing (many of these topics apply to other subjects such as Bible, History, and Science)
MJ in IL
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Copywork/Dictation - Benefits? Resistance?

Unread post by MJ in IL »

How much do you require?
hsmomto3 wrote:When you have your child write the dictation passages in PLL, do you have them use the "lined" paper? How much would you expect from an 8 year old boy? Should he be able to write the whole passage at one time? We are just beginning the PLL and are doing lesson 2 where he has to copy the passage....he gets upset and asks if he has to write ALL OF IT....Just curious about what I should expect.

I have had 2 boys do PLL. It was different for each one.

With my older son, simply getting 3 sentences down a day was a stretch! I did many of the lessons orally, have him write out the last 1/2 of the answers or write out evens/odds. On the writing lessons I chose to do, we would spread out the writing over a few days (still with some complaining) and continue on orally with the next lessons. He was 8 at the time and I am happy to say is writing stories of several paragraphs at 10 1/2 (with little or no complaining!)

My younger son craves work like this! (He is also 8 right now.) He wrote the particular lesson in one day, but in several "sessions." He was so proud of his work when he is done. I do use paper with the triple lines (handwriting paper) for these assignments. We continue to do many of the lesson orally...but he likes to write.

Hope this helps! Molly
Julie in MN
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Unread post by Julie in MN »

I've done virtually all of it orally thru age 10 (verbal Q&A, no writing!). I think he's copied one poem each year and he keeps an English rules notebook, but otherwise orally or the marker board for a few small things.

Just another option.
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Unread post by hsmomto3 »

I think the biggest thing for my ds is moving from book to paper in order to write it. I am thinking about copying it onto marker board and going over it with him pointing out punctuation/capitalization and then erasing and then dictating a portion of it to him. Think that would be good enough? Right now he still struggles with his reading so I don't want to put too much on him.

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Unread post by nehschooler2three »

I have an 8 y.o ds that I'm using pll with. This is my first year hs and I was making him write everything. He complained, cried and hated that book. While visiting with a veteran hs'er who uses mfw. i was telling her about my son's "attitude" problems and how should I "fix" them. She said "he's 8 and he's a boy?" She basically explained he probably can't write as fast as his brain works and how VERY frustrating that is. Her one word for me was to relax. (I can be VERY type A) She said to let him do everything orally for a week and see if his attitude changes.

After the first couple of days, his whole attitude changed! It was unbelievable. She said don't worry about it if he can narrate or dictate what he wants to "write". I do make him answer me in complete sentences so he gets that practice. But the only him I'm making him write his memory verse and in his history notebook after I've written down what he dictates and he copies it.

I don't know if that answers your question, but we're so much happier not writing anything from pll. He's still learning and memorizing and dictating and answering questions. (and NO complaining:) )

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Unread post by kellybell »

We are using PLL with an 8 yo boy (lots of those around, eh?). We do as much as we can orally and he is JUST at the point where he can handle Bible verse copying and dictation. Oh, his writing is so painfully slow and laborious. We work on it, but MINIMALLY.

I guess they grow out of it.

My prayer is that his handwriting ends up better than his dad's. And, that's setting the standard quite low. Don't tell him I said that! Tee hee hee.
Kelly, wife to Jim since 1988, mom to Jamie (a girl, 1994), Mary (1996), Brian (1998) and Stephanie (2001).
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Unread post by Tina »

Hi: I also have an 8 yo boy who is working thru PLL. I started PLL with my son when he was 7 yo.

I have done a lot of work for him orally. He has grown into writing his lessons, and we still do not "write" everything. I would say when a lesson instructs the child to copy, we do maybe two sentences. When dictating, the most I'll do with this child is two or three sentences. When filling in blanks, he only "writes" half of them, we do all oral.

I must say that I made him write everything when we started this book, and it was not a good idea. It was frustrating for him and brought him to tears. He really didn't like writing anything in 1st grade. I've learned a lot. This child has taught me a lot. I found that it was okay to only have him write what he was capable of writing, requiring anything more causes stress.......I learned this the hard way. We are now doing third grade work.

Because I have taken a lighter approach of what to expect him to write, it gives him the ability to think thru the lessons and retain it. Another thing that has occured is that because I only require what he is capable of doing, he sometimes goes above and beyond that because he wants to, not because I "make" him.

An example of this is, yesterday, he was supposed to copy some sentences with exclamation points in them. I asked him to copy three from an old poem that we previously studied. He was so thrilled with the poem, remembered studying it and asked, "After I copy my three sentences with exclamations, can I copy this whole poem and hang it in my room?" I couldn't believe my ears! The child who really doesn't like writing took over 20 min. to copy this poem, in his neatest writing and post it on his wall in his room! I was impressed!

PLL is a wonderful choice, that it really is such a gentle approach to language arts. You can adjust to the "writing" portion as the child matures, i think you have that flexibility with PLL. I really like this language arts book and it has worked very well for my ds.
Tina, homeschooling mother of Laura (1996), Jacob (1998) and Tucker (2003) In MO
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Unread post by Lucy »

I have not asked my children at that age to write it all. You can just have him write a few sentences and still get the same benefits form copy work.

PLL is really just right because most of it can be done orally and if you have a child who is resistant to writing (or actually is still having difficulty with the mechanics of using a pencil or, as I have heard said, has some form of pencilitis!) it is easy to adjust or let them even dictate at this age. I mostly let my son dictate to me at this age and do parts of the copywork. It is very gentle. I can remeber when we had some fill in the blank sentences and he really wanted to write in the blanks. I just copied the page off and glued it in his notebook. So funny since he rarely wanted to write.

Even in ILL I do not always have my children do the whole dictation that is assigned. It depends on what it is they are trying to focus on. Just have him work up to writing more. Try to work it out to so that if he has to write in PLL that day he does not have to write in another subject. I used to switch some lessons around for that reason.

wife to Lee and mom to Twila 18 (girl) and Noel 16(boy). Happy MFW user since 2002.

Unread post by cbollin »

blessedmom2 wrote:So would PLL for a 7 year old BOY be not a good choice? Maybe I should look into something else for him for next year.
I don't have boys. I found that the first couple of lessons were an adjustment time for teacher and student. Then you realize they don't have to dictate or copy work the entire lesson, and that you can do lessons orally, or spread it out over 2 days.

I think you'll do fine.


Copywork- What are the benefits?

Unread post by cbollin »

shera wrote:Could someone tell me what the purpose of copywork is if it isn't handwriting practice?
Copywork has several purposes: handwriting, and learning sentence structure, and how to make longer sentences by writing down a quality example.

I know there are other reasons and purposes....

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Unread post by Lucy »

Hi Sarah,
When my daughter began 2nd grade is when I first learned about it. Charlotte Mason is where I first learned or read about it. I believe I remember also reading some Ruth Beechick that also supported copying good works of literature.

To just add on to what Crystal has already said it has many practical uses.
One of the main practical uses is that by copying good sentences from good literature the one copying naturally becomes acquainted with what good writing is. That is really just another way of saying what Crystal has already said.

Another is learning, again in a natural way, about language mechanics. That would be capitalization, ending marks, commas, quotation marks. They can focus on these with more easy than when they are actually composing .

It can also help with learning to spell in a natural way since you may be copying words that you do not yet know how to spell. I think this has been one of the greatest benefits for my daughter who has struggled in this area.

I hope that at least gives you a start on the benefits of copywork. There may be others to but right now those are the ones that come to mind.

wife to Lee and mom to Twila 18 (girl) and Noel 16(boy). Happy MFW user since 2002.
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Copywork resistance

Unread post by tkbbrl6 »

Posted: Wed Nov 01, 2006 11:05 am

As for the copywork - I pick my battles and copywork isn't one that I think is worth it. My dd doesn't have a problem with it - but my ds who is 8 does. I type any fill-in-the-blank items and then all he has to do is read it and write the one or two words. I've also found over the years that sometimes at the ages of 6-8 it depends upon what they are copying from - do you write it on the board? For a lot of kids this is very difficult to copy from far-point. For some it's the print in the book and they do better if it's enlarged (not really an eyesight issue of not seeing - but more perception at this age - the same thing can hold true when reading). For my ds he writes his math, he writes for handwriting, he writes for notebooking, he writes geography cards, he fills in some of the ECC Country/Contienent pkts, etc. So I feel that's more than enough writing and copying. So for the PLL work I don't make him copy unless he wants to - for me it's more important that he understand the concept and can explain it or use the rule rather than copy something. I may be in the minority - and I can probably honestly say that when I first started hsing I probably would have made my oldest and battled - but I've been in this too long now and for me it's not worth a battle and a dread for school work - there will be plenty of time when they are older for copywork.
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Unread post by shellie »

Posted: Wed Nov 01, 2006 12:40 pm

Dictation-wise, I'm in the same boat as tk... my 8 year old HATES to write, so I cut way back on what I actually force him to copy/write down. I'll try to slowly add more and more as we go along, but I'm not pushing it at this stage.
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Unread post by Tina »

Posted: Wed Nov 01, 2006 2:34 pm

MY ds is also one who does not like written work. I have worked him up to writing maybe 5-6 sentences per lesson (that requires writing). Last year, we started writing at least one or two, then we moved up to 3 or 4, now we are onto 5 or 6. If I must cut a lesson in half and have him do the rest the next day (or not at all) then we do that. I try not to "stress" about writing. If he is getting the concept of what is being taught, I'm learning to be just fine with that and not pushing with the war with the pencil. He's made so much progress and I would hate to see him retreat because I push too much with forcing writing. He is now asking to write letters to friends and relatives, is able to write more for dictation and copy work and just today asked "hey, I think I might want to try cursive"! I almost fell over! See what happens when I am patient and don't force, YEA! For his history notebook, I only ask for two or three sentences, he's even starting to do more with that. I am very pleased and very proud of him.

My advice would be to stay at their pace, no matter how tempting it is to push them. Yes, we need to require them to think, work diligently and try hard--but if the battle of the pencil is causing tears and frustration, slow down and let them work at their own pace. I have learned the hard way! My dd at third grade level was capable of so much more writing than what my ds is doing now--but she's a different student with different strengths and I have to allow that. I think that is the beauty of ILL and PLL and the beauty of homeschooling.
Margaret Schrock
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Unread post by Margaret Schrock »

Posted: Fri Nov 03, 2006 3:31 pm

Well. Wednesday she did great on copying. In her own words,"When I'm not crying, this is fun." Thursday was a field trip and today when she pulled out her PLL book and saw copywork she groaned. So I told her to study it and then read it to me, filling in the blanks with the proper words. She did great, so for today that was the trick. Thanks everyone for your thoughts.
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Unread post by shellie »

Posted: Fri Nov 03, 2006
Margaret Schrock wrote:"When I'm not crying, this is fun."
I absolutely LOVE this quote!! (I think I might start using that line myself sometimes! heehee!) I'm so glad that things are going better for you Margaret! Thanks for sharing.
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Child who hates to write?

Unread post by kellybell »

holynickel wrote:How do you handle the copywork with a child that hates to write?

I looked at the second lesson and that is a lot for him to copy. He just doesn't like to write.

It is just hard for me. I don't want him to be behind. I am sure I expect more out of him than i should. I think part of my problem is that i have no other first graders to compare him to. LOL. I know in the long run...most men have at the most legible handwriting, and I definitely don't want to have school become too much of a drudgery. I know it is work and not all fun and games, but i do want him to enjoy.

Anyway, how would you handle that?
Posted: Fri May 25, 2007 11:39 pm
When it comes to copy work, perhaps you might want to copy most of a quote and have him add the missing word. Same for dictation. You give him a paper with a few blanks built in. You read the passage and when he follows along, adding the missing word when he comes to the blank.

The nice thing about PLL (and homeschooling in general) is that you can easily modify it to fit YOUR child. I know we've skipped some lessons, repeated others, and we've turned a lot of written lessons to oral ones...

Yes, it's tough when you don't have a roomful of first graders to compare your ds too. It's both a curse and a blessing. On one hand, you might feel insecure because you are imagining all these other first graders who can handle a huge amount of work with fancy handwriting and great attention to detail. On the other hand, if you are able to say, "forget what a 'first-grader' can do, I'll teach MY son..." then you are indeed free!

All kids reach milestones at different times. My oldest didn't crawl until 14 mos. and didn't walk until 18 mos. But, now, at age 12, she walks just as well as her friends! Same thing goes for riding a two-wheeler, becoming potty-trained, reading, learning multiplication. Most kids do just fine by a certain time.

Many of us scale back, modify, change, repeat, or skip things. We want the curriculum to fit our child and not vice versa. Remember than many books have MORE than you need and skipping and modifying are perfectly fine.

You are right in setting the goal of "school not being drudgery." I need that reminder now and then when I get to pushing my kids. Just enjoy your ds at where he is at and know that a lot of us (especially those with wiggly little boys) are in the same situation.

You're doing great!

Unread post by cbollin »

Posted: Sat May 26, 2007 5:19 am

Just repeating what the others are saying....

I blend our copywork and dictation. If a lesson in copywork is more than is necessary (given whatever else is going on that day), I set the timer for 5 minutes and get a lot of it done, and gradually over the year it becomes 10 minutes. So I handle it by saying --- it's 5 minutes worth of good quality work and end at five minutes. There's also the case the kid won't do anything or put forth an effort --- you know your kid, I don't.

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Unread post by caod »

Posted: Sat May 26, 2007 1:16 pm

We did PLL lessons this year in 2nd grade. I consider my dd a fairly good writer but I found that she fatigued quite easily. I realized that with many of the PLL lessons I needed to back off. In hindsight I didn't do it enough. I think it expects quite a bit. It was not at all unusual to take several days for one lesson or change a dictation to part copy part dictation.

I wish I would have scaled it back a little more. My dd would shut down and get overwhelmed if she saw it as too much. Live and learn. Don't be afraid to go with what your son seems to be able to handle on any one day. In terms of knowing what others are doing: I understand your question and have felt the same and just don't have any answers. But as hard as it is, try to go with what he seems to be able to do. I think there are alot of kids out there that find the writing a bit much.

Have fun.
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Unread post by Tina »

Posted: Sat May 26, 2007 5:44 pm

We are finishing up PLL this year and will move onto ILL for my 3rd grade son. We have also adjusted, omitted, added and included in our studies on PLL. You can do as much or as little as you feel your student can handle. My son was not one who enjoyed writing at all. We do all lessons orally, then we make a decision on what needs to be written. That's okay, don't stress out and don't stress him out--you can adjust to what his needs are. I am pleased with how much we have accomplished over the last year, so results do come!

Don't forget, you have copy work and dictation in your unit study too. Don't feel like you need to overload your guy with tons of copy work. If there's a day that you have bible memory copy work and your PLL lesson is copy work, do the copy work for PLL the next day, or, only do the first two sentences or stanza. Adjust according to needs.

I like some of the other ideas too; I should try the filling in the blank thing, I haven't done that yet.
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Unread post by JenniferF »

Posted: Wed May 30, 2007 4:23 pm

You know, I felt the same way of not having someone to compare it to... in the teaching and expectation areas and in the areas of how my 8yo 2nd grade dd is doing with her writing.

So, I was THRILLED the other day when I was bagging groceries to see on the wall above me a line of drawings and letters which students had written to thank the grocery store for the field trip.

I saw all sorts and sizes of writing and paper! The first one I noticed was on lined/dotted big paper and printed. And one right next to it was on primary paper and in cursive. I also saw ones written on regular wide ruled notebook paper and printed or cursive. The writing varied quite a bit, some neat, some messy, some huge, some small, some letters still turned backwards. So after looking at these examples I was glad to see ALL of those students were in the 3rd grade!! :)
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Unread post by holynickel »

Posted: Wed May 30, 2007 5:57 pm

This really is encouraging to me. I am so glad I am not the only one.

Thanks ladies.

It is good to know that next year when I am pulling my hair out over something, I can come here and you all will straighten me out.


Dictation for 3rd grader-Help!

Unread post by cbollin »

Kristi Covey wrote:I need some advice from PLL users. My oldest ds(9), is having some major meltdowns over dictation. He doesn't like to write so it's been a struggle. It seems as though he can only remember one small sentence at a time when I dictate to him from pll or anything else(now on pll lesson 120 or so). When I read about dictation for students, I get the idea that he should be able to do more. But so far this year, one line at a time is all we've done. Is this ok for 3rd graders. I know all kids learn at their own pace, I just want to make sure I'm not allowing him to fall.
Thanks so much for all your help!
Just how short is a short sentence that he can hold in his quick short term memory for dictation?

One thing I have my kid do is to say back the sentence to me once or twice before starting to write.
Plus, we look at the dictation together before starting any of it. It is very hard to do "cold dictation". Even when I was office work doing dictation from recordings, I would listen through to get an idea of the whole passage. Then, I'd go back through it slowly while typing. So I have a lot of leniency with my kids on dictation. I do one sentence at a time at this age.

My opinion on lesson 109: I would not have an expectation that the average 9 year old could do the very long sentence after just hearing it one time from teacher. (That's the sentence that starts with "Some insects live in the air....". I would expect an average 9 year old to be able to write that sentence in 3 parts stopping after each comma or the end of the sentence of course.

Look at it together,
then you say it,
have him repeat it
(if necessary say it again and repeat it if they don't get it right. yes, he can have the book in front of him while repeating it out loud. It might be that he needs that extra visual help),
now take the book
and then write it (and yes, it is ok for a 9 year old to say it silently to herself while writing if needed)

also, if their brains get stuck during dictation, I am of the opinion, it is ok to help with spelling a really tough word, or at least giving hints to help with the right rule to follow on a spelling. Other people have other opinions and other ways to deal with it. But if I watch my kid and know it is really because she is stuck on the word, I help or give hint or give a word bank at the beginning of it. Example in lesson 109: I would write down the word antennae, to let my child look at the spelling because I know she doesn't really have a clue how to spell it and during dictation is not the time to guess and teach it.

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Re: Dictation for 3rd grader-Help!

Unread post by mgardenh »

Is it a memory issue or writing issue. My dd just can't stand to write says it hurts her hands. And it takes her forever so by the time she get to half the sentence I have to repeat it. So she is typing on the computer. Big big difference. I just turn off the auto spelling and gramer correction so we can go over mistakes. I still have dd write in the books that require it but it has made such a difference. I have a unique situation so this may not work for you.
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Re: Dictation for 3rd grader-Help!

Unread post by TriciaMR »

We have the same issue with dictation. I'm at PLL lessons 122/123 (The Tortoise and the Hare). My dd's brain just fights writing. (She'll start to write, and then suddenly, she gets itches every where. It's like her brain says, "No! You can't do this, and I'm going to stop you by making you itch all over." Very frustrating for me and constantly tests my patience. You should watch us do Writing Eights.)

I've turned dictation into copywork, sometimes. I'll write it on the whiteboard, and then as she writes each word, I'll erase it, so she doesn't lose her place. Last year, I would write out things and have her trace over them to write (like verses), and this helped her a lot.

For The Tortoise and The Hare, we've done just 2 sentences a day. I show her the passage, pointing out the key punctuation things, and then she gets to pick what words go in the word bank and I write them on the white board. Then, I only say 2 or 3 words at a time, as she'll skip stuff (like 3 to 5 words) and not realize it, so correcting it would be a major rewrite, and we don't want to go there. (Then her brain says, "Ha! I'm going to have you cry now, since it will be so much work.") After we're done, then I show her the passage, and have her go back and correct punctuation. I watch her write, and have her correct spelling as we go, or we have problems with fitting in the correct spelling. Again, we don't want major rewrites.

We came from a traditional workbook program last year, that had maybe 2 dictations a week (once on a test, and once a week) the last 9 weeks of school, so dictation is very new for my dd. She can hold a whole sentence in her head, but she can't always write all of it down.

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Re: Dictation for 3rd grader-Help!

Unread post by Ariasarias »

Over here we just do the Memory Verses for dictation and I let my dd copy the dictation in PLL.:)
Nicole, wife to Claudio since 1996, and mom to dd (2000), dd (2003), dd (2005), and ds (2009).
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