Posted: Sat Sep 22, 2007 2:26 am
Cyndi (WA) wrote:What is narration? I might ask this question after I read a page or a chapter or a children's book -- or after she reads it aloud to me -- "what do you think that means?" If I get a blank stare, then I break it down to something like, "How do you think that person felt?," "Did they have a good idea or a bad idea?" etc. If she's still not really responsive, I'll come up with multiple choice ideas and have her pick. Then she can tell me what she really thought about the story. She may flip back through the book to get an idea of what to say. Sometimes, she even likes to sit at her desk and just write out (very messily) her version of the story -- they are hilarious to find later.
Is THAT narration? At least from a 5-year old? Honestly, I got those ideas from teaching Sunday School years ago, and that's just what I naturally do after reading, but I don't know if that's what "narration" is to a homeschooler. I never did anything like that in school - I was a workbook kid.
Like you, I naturally tried to engage my children in discussion after reading books. I experienced a similar process of trying to "help" my kids "get it."
How I use narration now is very different. Everything I know about narration has been gleaned from Karen Andreola's A Charlotte Mason Companion
(Chpt 14: Narration: The Art of Knowing). I highly recommend it. She is able to express Charlotte Mason ideas in a clear and practical way.
At least as I understand it, narration is a tool to help a child think through ideas and make connections with the ideas in a story to her actual surroundings and her life in it. CM did not expect formal narrations from a 5 yo. She encouraged the grown-up to be available and willing to listen to spontaneous narrations. The writing out of your dd version of the story is fabulous and should be encouraged. Drawing a picture of the story is also a legitimate narration of a story by a 5yo.
At age 6, she recommends explaining to the child what will be expected and then having her narrate only a paragraph at a time. The idea being that once they get accustomed to listening carefully, thinking and arranging the story mentally so it can be retold, the child will then learn to organize and think through larger and richer amounts of literature so that when formal writing excercises are required they are able to organize the information in a logical fashion instead of staring wide eyed at a outline wondering how on earth to fill it in (like I used to when I was in school).
Whew, I don't know if that helped or not. I really think Karen A does a wonderful job of explaining.
One more thing, I find with all three of my children, when it's anything longer than a page or two of text, if I tell them in advanced they will narrate and then give them time to think (anywhere from a few minutes to the rest of the day-depending on what we've read), they come back excited and eager to narrate because they had time to get to know the story and characters. Then it's a joy for them "to tell" and it's insightful to listen to. It is no longer me trying to guide them to reach my conclusions. They've come to their own and honestly they amaze me.
Edited to add:
I have a 5th grader who really struggled with the writing. Until last year, I had him tell me almost everything because a pencil discouraged him so much. Now, his writing (and typing) skills are catching up with his thoughts and he can really write a lot of interesting and complex sentences. I really needed people to encourage me to be patient because it took many years of oral narration to get here.