Narration is a fabulous tool to learn to understand your children. What are their thoughts? What are their opinions? And what have they learned? Not only is narration an essential part of a Charlotte Mason homeschool, but it is an excellent asset to any type of homeschool.
As new homeschoolers, I eagerly read everything about each method of homeschooling and settled on the Charlotte Mason method. It resonated with me, especially the parts that would help our family to become closer and get to know one another better.
Narration was one of the best tools for opening my eyes to how my children thought and processed information. It made a difference in how I taught them and how they reacted to homeschooling. But that’s not always been the case. I had to discover how to incorporate narration in a way that didn’t discourage the same thoughts and conversations I was trying to cultivate.
What is Narration?
Before I jump into a discussion on why narration is important, let’s first discuss what narration is.
Basically, narration is the retelling of what a child has learned. How often does your child come up to you and tell you about a new game they are playing or what they just saw on a television show? Maybe they relate a conversation they had with friends or give you a play-by-play of the sports event they just witnessed. These are all forms of verbal narration.
Children are amazing at narrating, and it is one of the best ways for them to learn. They read or watch something and then share this information with others. You may recognize it as the old adage, “Watch, learn, teach.”
Charlotte Mason recommends for children up to 6 to only narrate when they want. At this age, let them tell you stories about their activities and don’t push narration. Then slowly for the next few years have them retell what they have just read (or been read to). Narration shouldn’t last more than 15 minutes and shouldn’t be corrected as far as proper speech and grammar. It shouldn’t be quoting back what was read but should be in their own words.
As children progress with writing, the narration should switch to written form. Some subjects seem to lend themselves more to a written form, such as science, whereas literature always seems a bit conversational in our home.
What are Ways to Narrate?
There are many different ways for children to narrate, but they all start with the child learning. This can be from reading a book or a passage from a book, watching a video, or other type of learning activity.
The next step is to let the child express what they learned. This can be achieved in a variety of ways, such as:
- Telling a story. Let your child tell you about what they learned in their own words.
- Writing a summary. A child who is old enough to write well can write or type up an overview of what they learned.
- Role-playing. Children often enjoy acting out the story. This can even be done with dolls or Legos.
- Drawing. Sometimes a child can use illustrations to summarize the reading.
Finding ways for your children to narrate to you that enhances the learning process instead of hindering it can sometimes be challenging. My middle child HATED writing summaries and refused most other ways of narrating. She didn’t want to have to “tell me what she learned.” So, narration for her became a time of casual questions.
“So, what happened in the story today? Did the hero save the day? Was he able to escape his predicament?” I called it sneaky narration. I had to learn to sneak in questions without sounding like I was being the teacher and quizzing her on what she learned. As she grew, narration became easier. She began to initiate conversations about what she had learned that day, and I didn’t have to be so stealthy.
Why is Narration Important?
The act of narrating helps children to process what they learned. By having to retell the story in their own words, they commit it to memory and have a better recall at a later time.
Narration isn’t the memorization of facts, but the understanding of them. It’s not just testing what they learned (although that is helpful), but it helps them to organize what they learned. This creates critical thinking skills and teaches the student to think deeper.
But, one of the most important parts of narration is it gives us the chance to have conversations with our kids. When we give our children our undivided attention, we begin to learn more about who they are and what they think. Narration creates a bonding time when a mom and child can discuss important parts of a story and make applications in their own lives.
It’s no secret that as a homeschool teacher of multiple children, you can’t always read every book with every child. So, this one-on-one time with a student lets the teacher learn about the book along with them. You can ask questions about what they learned and make comparisons to other books.
When we take the time to have these one-on-one conversations with our kids, we build relationships. In turn, we create a more peaceful and loving homeschool atmosphere. And, isn’t that the most important part of homeschooling?
Hi, I’m Dachelle. I’m a homeschooling mom of 3 in the South. I love chocolate and have been known to hide it from my children. I can often be found reading a good book (or even sometimes just an okay book) and enjoying a jar of Nutella — don’t judge. I blog, here, at HideTheChocolate.com when I’m not creating book clubs and making lists…lots and lots of lists (it’s an addiction). Learn more…