Why do Narration?

by GfG on January 31, 2012 · 1 comment

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Want to help the kids in your life improve their brain power?  Read on.

Fourteen years ago I started reading about educational philosophies, even though I had a degree in education.  I had only heard of a few kinds of educational methods and had never heard of Charlotte Mason.  Once I read about her, I found much I liked.  I think we could have been friends.    ;-)

One of the big components in the Charlotte Mason style of education is narration.  I did it for awhile after we first started homeschooling HB and then… I started doing only what was in the curriculum I bought and didn’t incorporate narration in our homeschooling except when it was “scheduled”.

Thankfully, last summer I realized my mistake.

Here’s the deal: narration is a wonderful way to see what your kiddos have gleaned from an experience.

Why do I think I should do it and so should you?  Because narration involves the student having to attend and recall on their own.  There is a very big and important difference between recall and recognition.  You know, like you being able to tell me the names of the planets or recognizing them on a list, or the events in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, or the presidents.

If you haven’t heard of it, you’ll be surprised how easy it is.  Narration is simply a retelling of what you have just read or heard.

Do not be deceived by the simplicity of the act into thinking that it is not worth doing.   Since getting back on track with narration (Apologia science reminded me how well it works last year), I have seen my kids retain information better.  With The Littles (Cutie Pie and Faith, our kindergartner and second grader), I often ask for a narration after only one paragraph of history read aloud:  “Tell me one thing you remember about what I just read.”  Sometimes, I ask after a full page.  It depends on the material.

With our older students, they write two-four sentences about every reading assignment for the day.   I will also ask them to tell me about what they have read.   At the end of the week, they have notebooking pages for topics I have chosen in advance.  They write (and illustrate, often) to complete narrations for the week.  These are summaries of what they are studying.

When starting out, younger students will have a difficult time narrating.  They are not used to having to attend and retain information.  It’s just not in our culture anymore.  Fast paced and sensory overload is the norm.  Thinking while listening is not.  So, tell them, “I’m going to ask you to tell me one thing you remember about what you hear, so listen closely.”

When doing this with our astronomy co-op class (three newly turned six year olds and one eight year old), I had to ask after every two paragraphs and I sometimes had to reread.  That’s ok.  They got the hang of it and so will your kiddos.  Praise them when they do.

After getting down the basic gist of narration, you can change up how they express themselves.  They can draw a picture of what happened in the story.  They can act out something.  They can make up a silly song.

I have been happily surprised at what The Littles can now tell me (or draw or describe) after listening.  It’s encouraging for me.  And them.  They enjoy knowing that they are learning.

While you may not be a Charlotte Mason style homeschooler or parent, consider adding narration to your life and see how your child(ren)’s brain power improves.  And maybe yours too.    ;-)

Here are some ideas of other ways to incorporate narration into your life.

Do you use narration?

Linking to Hip Homeschool Moms

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Thyme January 31, 2012 at 10:59 am

We’ve always asked Sydney to retell us what happened in the scriptures, or with her reading materials. I didn’t realize that it might not be the norm. If I’m going to sit down and read out loud for 20 minutes (not my strong point, I tend to stumble over words easily, but having kids has done wonders to help me improve) then she’d better be paying attention!! ;)

At bed time we read her scripture stories and in order to get a bedtime book she has to be able to answer our questions or summarize the events that we read. There was a good time period when she’s repeat verbatim the last sentence that we had read, lol.

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