Copywork, Charlotte Mason, & Literature Based Education

by adustyframe ~ January 10th, 2008

I have been reading about Charlotte Mason since James was 3.

When I began to research what type of homsechool I wanted to have, I found Charlotte Mason right away.

I wasn’t certain about it. Her methods were very different from the way I was educated. I also didn’t know any other Charlotte Mason homeschoolers.

I just read and read and re-read. What drew me finally, was the joy.

It became very clear to me that educating children with Charlotte Mason principles would be a joy filled task.

This is our 2nd full year of formally following this method and I was right. It’s incredibly joyful. It’s also rigorous and well rounded.I’ve been amazed at the things I’ve learned even though I consider myself well educated.

When I was reading about copywork, narration, and grammar lessons, I remember thinking, “I hope ‘they’ are right.”

The advisory at Ambleside as well as the Charlotte Mason books I read said that formal grammar lessons are not necessary until the child is a little older. Around age 9 from what I’ve read. Here’s a quote from an advisory board member.

In the early years, copywork is intended to instill the mechanics of great writing–they learn from and spelling and phrasing and all of that through copying and internalizing literature.

I wasn’t too sure about it. It felt very foreign to me but I decided to run with it.

I decided that if I found my child lacking in grammar, I would find a program to implement very quickly before it became a problem.

Well, I’ve seen many times that “they” are right. The results I’m seeing in James’ education amaze me often.

Yes, he’s a smart child. Yes, I’m “only teaching one”. But I truly do not believe the results we’re seeing can be based on luck or variables. These results are from following a well proven method and working very hard.

So! I said all that to share this with you.


Yesterday, we read a chapter from the Burgess Bird Book. Since it’s winter, we’re reading the chapters about birds in winter.

We read about a Tree Sparrow and how they eat seeds from weeds.

After our reading, we went to the computer to look up Tree Sparrows.
(I love this site. We use it often to see how birds look and what their call sounds like.)

Since we’ve been neglecting our Nature Journals, I had him get them out and we copied the bird from the picture and colored it in.

I asked James to copy it’s name and Latin name. (I’ve been VERY bad at forgetting the Latin name thing!).

He is used to writing on lines, so his writing wasn’t as neat as usual.

As you can see in the photo, he wrote Tree Spar-


I asked him, “How did you know how to do that?”

He looked at me as though I had gone out of my mind.
He said, “From books!”

I am so delighted that “they” are right.

It’s such a joy to watch my son learn and grow and be exposed to wonderful literature and noble ideas.

And if he learns how to split words without being specifically taught to do so, I surely won’t complain.


6 Thoughts Shared to Copywork, Charlotte Mason, & Literature Based Education

  1. Jenn

    As I’ve said before, I love hearing about your homeschooling adventures. Your post sums up what I find so fascinating….the joy.

    Thanks, Jenn.
    I knew before I started that I’d love it–but I didn’t know how amazing it would be.

  2. Peregrina

    We used CM too.

    And I loved that “oh, he just gets it” moment!

  3. lindafay

    What a nice post.

    “I just read and read and re-read. What drew me finally, was the joy.”

    I think that explains so well why so many folks like Miss Mason’s ideas. Thanks for sharing.


    Thank you, Lindafay.

  4. JacciM

    Hi, Lizzie 🙂 I really enjoyed reading this post! I’m hosting the 10th anniversary edition of the Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival is a little over a week. Would you consider submitting this entry to the carnival? I think it would be a great contribution 🙂

    You can find a link for submissions on my blog.


  5. Makita

    Wonderful! We’re just getting into copywork but I can see the benefit already as well. 😀

  6. Jimmie

    Love Burgess bird book. We listened to Librivox recordings. Such a precious book. All of his works are, really. Thanks for submitting to the carnival!

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