Thanks to 'meeting' Charlotte Mason over the summer, copywork has become part of my homeschooling arsenal. I expected much resistance from the troops, to have to fish him out of his room after he ran to hide, but not so. Copywork time is peaceful time at the table and we both like it for different reasons. We try to do some copywork twice a week and occasionally mix in some dictation, too.
Max says he doesn't want his handwriting to look like that of a first grader's. He seems pleased to see a page filled up with neat writing that came from his hand. I have more of a covert agenda in that I'm glad he's being exposed to great thinkers who really know how to string words together. They also are pretty good at using correct grammar, spelling and punctuation! It's probably a given that readers tend to have a better natural grasp of the elements of language just by the sheer number of encounters one experiences with phrases and words and such.
The clever and fun part comes in when I climb outside of the box and try to surprise him with various pieces he can copy. He is a huge fan of Calvin and Hobbes; dialogues between the free-thinking six year old and his stuffed tiger were among the first bits of copywork we did. Musical lyrics work very well, too - especially if I pay attention to what he's listening to - that's poetry he can appreciate and relate to. We finished Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book a few weeks ago and I could not resist the great battle between Rikki Tikki Tavi and Nag the cobra; one of Rudyard's best stories ever! Pulling material from something your child is reading or has recently read gives him/her almost a sense of ownership over the words. "Hey - I know those words!" J.R.R. Tolkein's Bilbo Baggins has offered up some great text, too.
I expect him to take his time and pay attention to word placement on the paper; he has a tendency to want to conjure up never-before-seen hyphenations when he runs out of room at the end of a line. Already there have been significant improvements in his confidence in not only penmanship, but in all other things composition-related. It's getting him accustomed, too, to sitting for longer periods and writing longer pieces - something he didn't think he was capable of at the end of fifth grade. Copywork is a valuable endeavor! At first glance it appears to look exactly like busywork, but it's got so much more intrinsic value embedded in it. Don't resist it - try it and see what happens.
Reach far and wide for copywork sources - use that wonderful imagination of yours. Good stuff might be lurking on the backs of your cereal boxes......use thoughts from Mother Theresa, family stories written up by a senior member of the family, parts of great speeches, pieces of technical writing, scientific papers, newsletters from your favorite non-profits (might wish to double check the grammar and spelling!), non-fiction adventure stories, Winnie the Pooh, other philosophers. It's wide open! Plays and other manuscripts can take part nicely, too, and so can some comic books. I started a file of ideas; some things fit better at different times depending on what we are doing.
I downloaded some quotations from Shakespeare's mind HERE. I kind of like having him tucked in my idea folder!