Monday, July 5, 2010


I have spent a lot of time reading Charlotte Mason's Original Homeschooling Series.  It is so wonderful.  I have also been rereading Karen Andreola's Charlotte Mason Companion.  I have more thoughts running through my mind.

One particular subject I have been rereading about is the Art of Narration.  I have read about it before but have never intentionally applied for the sake of Charlotte Mason.  I have always regularly had my children tell me what they learned in Primary and what they read in their scriptures that morning.  Now I am seeing value in branching out to include narration in other aspects of our lives.

First off narration is essentially the telling back of what a child as learned either from a book, another person, or observing something in nature for example.  Children are invited to retell what they learned.  At first this my be difficult but over time children will learn to express themselves better.  In Charlotte Mason this replaced endless workbook pages (which I doubt they had then anyway).  Oral traditions of retelling are as old as time and narrations are a continuation of these ideas.  I think perhaps we as a society are loosing hold of our oral traditions and oral story-telling ability?

Continuing on with Charlotte some of the benefits included:
  • Mind filled with beautiful thoughts from beautiful words or visual observations
  • Helps the child to retain the information learned
  • Inspires a love of learning
  • Strengthens mental powers
  • There is no extra test, that is the test
  • Trains children to listen the first time
  • Improves there ability to express themselves
  • Sets them up for being excellent writers
Karen Andreola includes a helpful list in her book (126-127) that provides ideas for narration.  They are:
  • Tell me about: the habits of the squirrel, Columbus' first voyage across the Atlantic, the last plague on Egypt and the first Passover, Heidi's visit with Peter's grandmother, etc.
  • Explain how: a polliwog turns into a frog, a rose is pollinated, a sedimentary rock is formed, Pocahontas saved the life of John Smith, Jesus healed the blind man, the Magna Carta came to be written, how bread is made, etc.
  • Describe our: trip to the shore, nature walk, visit to the fire station, planetarium experience, etc.
  • Describe anything new you just learned from this chapters
  • Tell me five things you learned about...
  • Tell back the story (passage, episode, chapter) in your own words
  • Ask or write six questions covering the material of this chapter (good for an older student)
  • Draw a picture, map or likeness of....
  • What did you learn about... in this chapter (The Wright Brothers, Sarah Noble, Abigail Adams, Martin Luther, Queen Elizabeth, Captain Ahab, Pinocchio, etc)
As your child grows you may write down their narration occasionally.  You may then have then copy it in their own writing to work on penmanship.  As they become more confident they will dictate their narrations on their own.  They will then correct it (learning spelling and grammar) and rewrite it continuing to improve on penmanship.  I see the vision of this because dry workbooks become unnecessary. My children would be more engaged because it is something they are more excited about. One comment I read was that it seems like "one more thing to fit it."  The response being, "no you replace and simplify." (my words)

My husband and I have pledged that we will place an emphasis on this now.  Even if I just had them narrate the book we are reading a loud it would make a difference. 

Most of this information was gleaned from Karen Andreola's book mentioned above from pages 113 through 137.


Celeste B. said...

I have found that Narration works very well for my son, but my daughter is not verbally creative. However, my daughter can write a book about one small subject and my son writes a paragraph. LOL! I'm working on helping each youth develop better skills in what they are not as proficient at. Were there any ideas of how to do that in what you read?

Being A Mother Who Knows said...

Celeste-I would see if your library has the Andreola book. It might answer some of your questions.

I started giving you a list of ideas to do with your son and daughter and it ended up as long as a post. Sooo I am editing it and expanding it and will post it as a "post" in the next day. : )