Copywork, Dictation, and Narration

Writing has been an area that I have struggled with for quite a while.  I have tried so many different types of curriculum and even tried teaching writing the way I taught when I was a teacher (over the years, as I’ve homeschooled off and on).  None of it has been a good fit.

As I’ve learned about the Charlotte Mason philosophy, one of the things that stands out to me is the way she says to teach spelling, grammar, and writing.

We use The Good and the Beautiful Language Arts (which is CM inspired but not 100% CM), Handwriting (it has copywork in cursive), and Creative Writing (starting in the fall), but in addition we do dictation and narration to kind of put into practice what they are learning.

So… why do I do copywork, dictation, and narration if I’m using a language arts curriculum?

The biggest thing is that it’s a really good habit for them to use what they have learned and to practice it every day.

But I’ll break it up in this post!

The info below is my understanding and/or how we use it.  I don’t consider us to be CM exactly, but CM inspired.  I like a lot of the philosophy.


They do copywork each day to practice their cursive handwriting.

  • They get to see what well done pieces of writing look like.
  • They have to make sure they include the correct punctation, capital letters, grammar, etc as they are copying.
  • They even get to learn some things!  The curriculum teaches grammar rules, spelling rules, poetry, etc through copywork.


I take a passage from a good book and read it to them while they write it.  I allow them to see it initially.  I say full phrases or sentence at once and if I repeat, I repeat the whole phrase or sentence.  I pause when there are commas, etc.  The words that they get wrong are what they practice during their spelling time.  They have a list of fun ideas for practicing spelling words.

This is one that I hope to continue for a long time.  There are so many benefits to it.

  • We use it to learn new spelling words and seeing them used in context.
  • They have to make sure to use the punctation and grammar correctly.
  • They have to remember longer and longer phrases and sentences and write them well.
  • It increases vocabulary.
  • Helps with listening comprehension and skills.


After I learned what narration is, I realized that I have been doing this for a long time, as a teacher and as a homeschool teacher and didn’t know that’s what it’s called.  I always called it “reading response” based on how I learned to teach.

It’s basically just recalling what they read or what was read aloud to them.

My kids have a journal with questions and sentence stems inside and they read for 25 minutes then write a response using one of those questions or sentence stems in 3-5 sentences.  I got the list of questions on Simply Charlotte Mason’s website for free before that, I used questions that I found on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Why is this important?

  • Simply: to make sure they are comprehending!
  • I also get to see their thoughts on paper.
  • The questions help them dig deeper and determine motives, sequence, comparisons, etc of characters and plot.  It’s such a great way to determine comprehending.

I’m still working things out and figuring out what we love to do as a family.

2 thoughts

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