Archive for the ‘Discipline’ Category

Copywork as Consequence

January 4, 2007 @ 7:56 am | Filed under: ,

Jeanne wrote:

I admit to being curious about your giving copywork to the oldest
sister as a consequence. It sort of surprised me. Maybe it’s because I
have boys, for whom copywork-as-consequence would pretty much cement in
their brains writing-is-punishment. Have I not read enough Charlotte
Mason to get some underlying connection, or is this just something that
you don’t have to be concerned about because the proclivity-to-write is
so strong in your kids? (Which wouldn’t surprise me a bit).
Copywork-as-consequence is one of those things that would never cross
my mind as appropriate for our family — while totally respecting that
if it works for your family, you surely know and use it wisely and well.

Ooh, Jeanne, that’s a really good question. No, I’m not drawing this particular idea from Charlotte Mason, and in fact it does run a bit counter to her views on habit-training. (I admit to finding her total optimism a wee bit amusing; while I TOTALLY AGREE that proactive habit-training is the best way to cultivate pleasant behavior, I do also find occasion for some remedial measures!)

But back to your question. Yes, my girls—the two oldest only, so far, mind—are enthusiastic enough about writing that I do feel comfortable assigning the occasional passage of copywork as a consequence for inappropriate behavior. It doesn’t happen often; perhaps twice a month. ("No dessert" as a consequence is much more common around here.) Like you, I wouldn’t dream of assigning punitive copywork to a child if I thought it would give that particular child a bad taste in the mouth for ALL writing.

The reason I like it as a once-in-a-while measure for Jane and Rose is because I can choose a passage related to whatever incident merited the consequence, and I really think they benefit much more from the quiet, reflective act of copying out someone else’s words (perhaps a passage from Louisa May Alcott) than listening to a lecture from me. (Not that a lecture is the only alternative, but there are times a mom does need to get a certain point across.) I try not to make it a big "in-your-face" thing, just something subtle, a paragraph or two in which a fictional character is dealing with a similar fault.

As I write it, it sounds awfully smarmy, but I can honestly say it has never felt that way in practice. It seems to work very well for Rose in particular, and usually afterward there will come a time later in the day when she—my most reserved, introverted child—gets very chatty with me about whatever incident precipitated the copywork. We’ve had some great talks this way, and I think the copywork helps her cool off and get outside the emotional storms she struggles with, if that makes sense.

By the way, Jeanne and everyone, I really appreciate the thoughtful questions and comments you all contribute here! Thank you for keeping the conversation rolling!