Copywork/Transcription—> Bad Attitude

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  • Michelle

    I’m in need of some direction. I have a child who has been doing copywork since she was in 6. We have followed CM type lessons always and she’s on Lesson 50 of Spelling Wisdom/Using Language Well. Every day is a fight to get her to do the work. She misspells words by leaving letters out, which tells me she’s not attentive to what she is copying. It takes her well over the time limit simply because she won’t sit down to do it or stares out the window. She is very capable of doing it, she just doesn’t care. I’m so exhausted from the disruptions her attitude is causing during our school. She is ten. We’re having such issues with attitude and anger that we plan to have counseling with our pastor.

    In the meantime, is there a different language arts program or method I should look into? Should I just be finding independent work for her to be working on so we don’t collide every day? I’m praying our pastor can help us through this.



    “Let the writing lesson be short; it should not last more than five or ten minutes.” (Home Education, Volume 1, p. 233)

    I don’t have an answer for the anger issue.  I will say that I think Spelling Wisdom or a poetry book is really all you need for your daughter to practice writing/transcription.  We use Spelling Wisdom for dictation and poetry for writing/transcription.

    I have a son, age 10, and a daughter, age 9, who do writing for 10 minutes every day.  Their assignment is to copy two lines of the poem each day.  If they finish the two lines before the timer goes off, they are done with transcription/writing for the day and have a few minutes to themselves before the next lesson begins.  If the timer goes off before they finish the two lines, they are still done for the day.  I check their work for spelling and try to gently point out handwriting errors.  They are currently copying poetry for transcription.

    My son dislikes transcription/writing because cursive is difficult for him.  At the beginning of our fall term, he complained quite a bit about having to do writing.  Actually, he never writes in cursive unless I ask him to do so.  Now he rarely complains about writing.  Having a limit of 10 minutes keeps him from getting frustrated and angry about having to do writing.  Sometimes he does not get the 2 lines of the poem finished, but my goal for him is to work diligently for 10 minutes and give his best effort.  I know my child, so I evaluate his work based on his ability.  My daughter writes in cursive nearly effortlessly, and I think she actually likes to write.  She gets her work done quickly, and normally her only problem is misspelled words.  There again, I know my child and try to encourage her as needed.

    I would encourage you to set a timer and let your daughter be finished when the timer goes off.  Here is a possible scenario…Day 1, she is shocked that you actually stop the lesson after 10 minutes even though she has only written 2 or 3 words.  You don’t say anything, you just smile and close the books and move on to the next lesson.  After several days of using the timer for writing, perhaps she will realize it really is a short, doable lesson and she might just try to do her work without getting angry.  This is just an idea, but I hope it helps.



    Thank you, Rachel. That is a very sweet way to handle it. I will give that a try.

    I foresee, and pray it doesn’t happen, she may get upset if I say we’re finished for the day. I will definitely have to do it with a smile on my face. 🙂 She’s a little OCD. Her handwriting is immaculate, but she whines and says it’s sloppy. (I have never, ever said she had sloppy handwriting. It’s always been so good!!) All that to say, her brain often doesn’t do well when we don’t “finish.” I think it makes her uneasy. We’ll give it a go though.

    I’m also concerned about how that would work out with SW and ULW being used in the proper time frame. If it takes days to complete one lesson, we’ll never finish book 1! I have a feeling my husband, and myself as well, will feel we need to be moving language arts on a little faster.

    Your take on those issues are much appreciated and very welcome.


    Require full attention, and use a timer for grammar.  Stop when it goes off.  Pushing through  lessons just to finish a book is discouraged in a CM education.  But as a mother who likes to finish books, I understand that this will take courage on your part.  Forward progress is the goal.  Teach the child, not the curriculum.  I don’t have the quote in front of me, so maybe someone else can chime in, but it is okay to leave a book/work unfinished at the end of a term.  Spread the feast, trust the method, and you will see results.  This is my experience.

    So just for a  little perspective, Book 1 of Using Language Well and Spelling Wisdom are used over the course of at least 2 years.  My son has been using book 1 for a little over 2 years.  He is on lesson 123.

    I hope this is helpful.

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