There is perhaps no better way to learn good writing than to be exposed to good writing. Through copywork and dictation exercises, students see, hear and copy passages in the natural setting of great books and stories. Over time, students come to learn what good writing consists of, and will pattern their own writing on examples of language, structure, style and other aspects of the models they have come to know. As a side benefit, lessons will also be learned within the context of the literature itself.
Typically, copywork begins at the earliest ages, when children copy words, and then sentences, and then longer passages. Several grades later, children begin writing from dictation, and compare their writing to the original passage for correctness.
Some curriculum products offer copywork and dictation exercises built right in. Learning Language Arts Through Literature and Writing with Ease are two such examples, but there are others as well.
Families can also do copywork and dictation entirely on their own. Passages may be chosen from classical literature, poetry, scripture, history books, science books, or any other source of quality writing.
Although copywork and dictation is valuable for every child, it aligns especially well with the learning philosophies of Charlotte Mason, Classical educators, Ruth Beechick and several others. Easy and inexpensive, the outcomes of using copywork and dictation are unmatched.
Some links and articles related to this topic are provided below. Begin with these, and then find others on your own:
Why do copywork and dictation? by Jessie Wise Bauer
Homeschool Interview with Dr. Ruth Beechick
Copywork and dictation in a Charlotte Mason education