18 Comments

  1. At that age, we did most of our narrations orally. My daughter blew through books too fast for me to keep up with reading each and every one. So I would ask her, what did you read about today? We’d do that everyday for literature and saved the written narrations for history & science. Now she’s 9yo and I alternated between oral literature narrations and having her write down 1-2 sentences about what she has read, everyday. If I want to discuss the book further, I have to read it so that I know what to ask, but we haven’t done much of that yet. I’m thinking we’ll save most of that for logic stage. We follow the WTM and have used Writing with Ease, but I find that it’s easier to work on narrations skills in history and science. I want her to enjoy reading, so we tend to take a more relaxed approach to literature narrations. Hope something in there helps!

  2. I have my son narrate our history readings and we use WWE which has quite a bit of narration. I haven’t had him formally narrate other things yet because it’s quite hard for him and I’m afraid that narrating too much will kill his love of reading. Similar to Paige, I’ll often just ask him about what he is reading but in a more “do you like that book? What’s it about?” kind of way rather than a formal narration.

    I do find that my son does better at finding the main points for short sections. It’s very tough for him to hear a whole chapter of Story of the World and tell me the main points but if I have him stop and narrate after every section he can do it better. I’m quite sure he couldn’t read a novel and tell me the most important points in a few sentences. He could reenact the entire plot and tell me lots of details but not summarize it. But I feel like that’s what we’re working towards.

    We use the Well-Trained Mind and many of SWB’s resources also. I’ve heard her lecture several times and the impression I got was that in the grammar years she doesn’t recommend trying to get kids to discover the “meaning” of a book. It’s more about having them be able to summarize the plot in a few sentences rather than look for deeper meaning at this age. So Charlotte’s Web is “There was a pig named Wilbur. He made friends with a spider named Charlotte. She saved him from being killed.” rather than “It’s about friendship.”

    The other thing I always find useful to remember when reading The Well-Trained Mind is that SWB is very open about the fact that it’s sort of her ideal recommendations but she doesn’t use it all or follow it all in her own homeschooling.

  3. Umm, no, we used to, but it kinda has fallen by the wayside. I do however plan all her school books, so I do have a record in my plans of what she read for the year.

  4. I’ve just noticed that my oldest is a good listener, for the most part, but he only gets the general idea of what’s going on when I let him play on the floor next to me. I have no answers to your questions, of course, because I’m behind you in the game. I’ve been wondering if I should stop every chapter or even midway and have a set of questions to ask him to make sure he’s retaining what I read. Then he’s only 4 1/2 and so I wonder if I should just keep our reading light and fun. Then I wonder if I shouldn’t just get him used to the sound of my voice providing the distant background noise. =P We have a ways to go, me thinks!

  5. I’ve only ever had Older Daughter narrate two “pleasure” books a week in writing, because we also do SOTW narrations and science narrations. She hates the physical act of writing. Oral narration comes naturally for her, though; she can’t turn out the light at night until she gives a report of what she’s read. So I hear about the other things she’s reading, and if I don’t I ask. But she doesn’t have to “make a page” on everything. It would make her dread reading.

    I’m taking the same approach with Younger Daughter, though this year I’m reducing the written narrations of story books from two to one per week for both girls and relying more on oral “composition.” And with YD I’m doing the physical writing for her at this point. That brain-mouth connection is so important, and I don’t want to hinder them in it by tying it to writing till they’re both more proficient with the physical writing.

    If one of them has trouble narrowing in on the main point, I keep rephrasing questions to get them to back up and see the whole action of the story. “What problem was so-and-so working to solve? Did they solve it? How?” Or, “What was the very most exciting part to you? Why?” Things like that.

    I have a funny Mt. Majestic story. Last night I was dishing up ice cream and asked Older D if she wanted a cookie on hers. “I’ll take my cookie separately,” she said. “I have a moral objection to mixing cookies and ice cream.” 🙂

  6. Thank you to everyone who weighed in! Most of the writing that Lulu does is voluntary this year, which is a big development from last year when she loathed and abhorred the physical act of writing. It helps me so much to get a feel for what this looks like in others’ honeschools!

  7. Amy,

    I think this is a great narration for a seven year old to make on a whole book, especially a seven year old. If you want her to have a relationship with the book, I would suggest that you slow down the reading pace (say one chapter a day) and have her narrate after each chapter. If that seems too much then break it down into smaller chunks until she is giving a pretty decent narration without a lot of prompting from you. When she is finished then you can have a conversation about the important points.

    I use Charlotte Mason style narrations in our education and I have them narrate their history, biography, science, natural history, and select literature readings. With these books the readings are spread out throughout a term or the whole year. Then they also have a list of books that are just good quality reading books that I don’t require narration. Many of these they enjoy so much that they come tell me about it and never realize that they are narrating!

    Narration doesn’t have to be “telling back” but could include drawing, acting the story out, etc. You could google “narration jar” and get a lot of different narration ideas.

    This link: http://livingcminca.blogspot.com/2010/05/on-narration.html
    has a nice article about narration from a Charlotte Mason point of view, but I believe wo uld be useful.

    Don’t forget she is only 7 and getting used to narration. Some days she’ll flop and other days she’ll do great. On those days that it doesn’t seem she is getting it, you could narrate for her!

  8. Well, Sprite was not reading novels like these at age 7! We did mostly oral narration at that age, or I helped her to dictate her thoughts onto paper.
    For a voracious reader, no, I would not require every book to be narrated. It’s always nice to know what a child thought of a book, though. But I assume you do talk about things informally. 🙂
    And for the last thing, I think it’s fine to allow her to choose how to narrate. If there are forms she dislikes, then there is no need to push her to do them as long as she can do the same cognitive task in another format.

  9. Thank you so much for sharing this at Trivium Tuesdays! I really love seeing the specifics of how other people teach their children (especially Classically, of course!) I’m going to go look at your clog more now to see what you’re up to currently. Thanks again, and I hope you are able to link-up again this Tuesday!

  10. Thank you so much for letting me know my Trivium Tuesdays button wasn’t working correctly. I’m not sure why it was acting goofy, but I redid the HTML code and it’s working again!

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