Copywork for Teens
I thought my son was kidding when he approached me this morning. After all, he is taking college classes, and doing quite a lot of writing. I thought he’d finished with copywork years ago! As soon as he explained why he wanted it, though, I knew he was right. He did need copywork! He was finding that as he took quick notes in class, his handwriting was getting less and less legible. He needed to practice writing both quickly and neatly, and copywork is the perfect tool for that.
How to make copywork for teens
To make his copywork, I copied the first eight verses of Psalm 119 onto college-ruled paper, skipping every other line. That way, he could write directly under my letters, which would remind him to watch his spacing and letterforms. As we did when he was younger, we each used a different color pen, so the finished page looked interesting.
Copywork is an excellent tool for teens who need to improve their handwriting for the essay portion of the SAT or ACT. I’ve read a number of articles that indicate that test evaluators are having serious problems reading some of the handwriting on these exams. Needless to say, if they can’t read it, they can’t evaluate it!
Sources for copywork
Although you can use almost anything as copywork for teens, I usually start with scripture, choosing the RSV for beauty or the New International Version for slightly more modern language (my own memory is heavily stocked with KJV, which is also a good choice). Psalm 119 is perfect for copywork, as it’s neatly divided into stanzas of eight verses each, and one stanza fits perfectly on a single side of college-ruled paper. By the time your student writes one stanza a day all the way through the chapter, your student’s handwriting ought to be beautiful!
Other things you can use for copywork include passages from any good literature the student is reading, history or science narratives, poetry, fables, or essays. Whatever your student needs or wants to learn can serve as a copywork model, so feel free to be creative. There are quite a few models posted at Excellence in Literature — just search by whether you want to copy poetry, short stories, biography, or another form.
If you don’t feel that your handwriting is clear enough to be a good example to your students, you may want to learn along with them. As a follow-up to Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting, we used Barchowsky Fluent Handwriting. It comes with a CD of editable worksheets in the Barchowsky font, a lovely cursive italic, which you can edit on your computer so that you can create as many beautiful copy-sheets as needed. At the moment, it’s only available for PC, but I hope that it will at some point be available for Mac.