Improve Cursive Handwriting with Copy Work

I am a firm believer in using cursive handwriting copy work to improve penmanship with our children. It takes just about fifteen or twenty minutes of daily practice added to your homeschool lesson plans to sharpen these important skills.


cursive handwriting

Do you have children whose handwriting needs work? If you are familiar with this problem, read on as I share a little of what we do in our house.

Improving Handwriting in Our Home

I will require that they practice cursive handwriting for as long as I think they need it. I am not expecting perfection but I do require that they have a legible handwriting and are capable of writing standard cursive letters.

Some of our children have elected to get into calligraphy or other styles of writing such as graffiti but that was entirely their decision.

Before they start copy work and especially prior to copying long passages, I have them begin by:

  • tracing letters
  • then words
  • finally sentences
  • then they trace and finish rows of letters, words, and sentences
  • finally, they can do copy work from a book or the marker board

I use a marker board in our dining room to write their copy work on for them. I model the work and then have them complete it in their notebooks or on printing practice paper which has the beginning, middle, and ending lines on it.

I have often seen these referred to as "top, middle, and bottom" lines or "basement, first floor, and upstairs" to help children understand the formation of letters.

Of course, if you are not interested in doing your own copy work on a marker board or chalkboard, you could create a worksheet on your computer or find a ready-made one online.

Copy Work Examples

I am not creative enough and don't have the time to always create the sentences or passages, so I borrow from the Bible and other books, too. These are some of the copy work models for our children in primary grades and middle grades progressing from the full name to sentence to paragraph:

→Darius E. Upshur

→The Bible is our best book.

→The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified. – Isaiah 61:1-3.

In today's fast-paced, technological age, it can be a little challenging to make sure that your child learns how to correctly form letters and connect letters properly.


Several publishers, including Sonlight homeschool curriculum and Abeka even have cursive penmanship built into their home school reading programs.

Although we have the computer which is more than capable of helping us to compensate for poor handwriting, it is still a good idea to teach cursive handwriting skills to your children. Using quality copy work also enhances their character education!


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