Narration is an important evaluation tool. Learn why you should use it, how to incorporate it in your homeschool, and narration suggestions.
What is narration?
In a Charlotte Mason education, narration is the primary method of evaluating what your child has learned. It is telling what you heard, read, or studied in your own words. It can also include how you feel or how it compares to something else you know. Narration can be oral, drawn, dramatic, or written.
Why should you use narration?
It builds so many valuable skills such as:
- reading comprehension,
- assimilating information,
- organizing information into a logical sequence,
- organizing thoughts into meaningful sentences,
- communicating those thoughts.
What should you narrate?
- Math—narrate how to work a concept just learned or tell about the living math book just read
- Literature, history, science, geography, character, Bible—narrate the story in his own words
- Composer study—how did it make him feel, what did he like, what instruments did he hear, show an interpretive dance
- Picture study—describe the picture, where are the people in the picture, what colors did the artist use
- Travels—describe a famous landmark you just visited, pretend to record an interview with an expert telling about a historical site
How should you narrate?
Narration is not easy so do not be frustrated if your student has trouble at first. To understand what you are expecting of your student, read a passage from a book you are reading and narrate it to someone. It’s hard, but so worth it. I practice narration, usually in a notebook, whenever I read anything other than literature.
Do not require narration until age 6, but rejoice with your child and encourage him when he offers one before age 6.
All students over the age of 6 should participate in narrations. Tell your students before you begin reading that they will be expected to narrate, or tell you what they heard, when you finish reading. Ask for narrations from the youngest student to the oldest. When beginning narration, choose a short passage. Older students can narrate longer passages after practice.
If your student has trouble with narration, you might need to use an easier book until he gains proficiency. A good book for beginning narration is Aseop’s Fables (we like the Milo Winter illustrated version). We have also had success with beginning narration by using the Bible. (Several suggestions for Bible reading plans include Family Bible Reading plan and printable from Cultivated Lives (Heather Haupt), Penny Gardner’s Old Testament readings, Penny Gardner’s New Testament readings.) Do not read a whole chapter before asking for a narration.
Most narrations should be oral, which can include drawing a picture or reenacting a scene. Around age 9-10, introduce written narrations. Begin with only one written narration per week. Older students may write more narrations each week after practice. Do not correct written narrations. It can be helpful to have your student read the narration out loud if you have trouble seeing the content for the grammatical and spelling mistakes. Also do not be surprised if you find your once verbose narrator only writes a few sentences. This is a big transition and it will take time to improve written narration skills.
It can be boring for mother to always say, “Tell me what we read today.” To keep it interesting you can use a narration jar or a narration cube.
Learn more about the narration jar.
Penny Gardner has information about a narration cube and how to create one.
Ambleside Online has another option.
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