Narration - Kids who have trouble expressing thoughts

Copywork, Cursive, Dictation, Grammar, Handwriting, Letter Writing, Memory Work, Narration, Read-Alouds, Spelling, Vocabulary, & Writing (many of these topics apply to other subjects such as Bible, History, and Science)
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Narration - Kids who have trouble expressing thoughts

Unread post by kellybell »

joy2BAMom wrote:My oldest child is a boy who will be 9 next week. We just finished up PLL. He can narrate things back to me fairly well but is is very rigid...if you know what I mean. It is like he concentrates very hard to memorize things word for word instead of understanding the meaning of the selection and telling me what was meant by it.

I have noticed this summer that he has a hard time expressing himself verbally. As in he is trying to tell a story and he has a hard time organizing his thoughts and he has lots of 'ummm' s and uhhhh's all through the story. It is very confusing to hear him retell something. I can always talk him through it, asking questions to help him think about it in the right way. Sometimes it is very frustrating to him. And honestly sometimes it frustrates me! I understand he is young and children are children. I don't expect him to be able to speak like an adult. Also, I know that he is more mechanical minded than word oriented. I also know that I want him to be able to express himself well. What can I do to help him? Thanks to anyone who has any words of wisdom. Of course I am also open to the response that I am worrying for nothing!!
No wisdom here :~ but I have the same son. He's going to turn 11 in October and I can tell his brain has the story but it is difficult for him to get new thoughts into words. He's fine at telling a story for the 10th time (and he does -- sigh) and he can quote things he's heard a couple of times on tape/CD (last year at convention we bought some clearance priced Diana Waring CDs on WWII and he listens to them for fun and can quote them -- again sigh).

The thing that has helped him most is just giving him normal, unpressured outlets for his speaking such as having other little boys over to play, asking him questions about stuff he likes (Greek myths, baseball, Legos, his current book), letting him have time with the pet rats (he talks to them constantly and the words flow better), letting him listen to others talk too.

Some boys are just like that. Their brains and mouths work at different speeds and some wonderful "3-D" thoughts don't fit into the linear world of speech. Some things are just hard to put into words. Usually, when I see this in a little boy (rarely a little girl) it's in a bright, imaginative, and perhaps a bit quirky little boy. Often the ones that have the hardest time getting the words out are the ones that are most worth listening too (even if it is sometimes painful when it takes over a minute to get a complete sentence out).

Hang in there. I guess the PC answer is "talk to your doc" if you have concerns that are niggling at you... As for me, I just encourage my son with his talking and try not to interrupt him or finish his sentence (my bad habit is trying to furnish that last word so we can be done with the thought -- gotta hold that back).
Kelly, wife to Jim since 1988, mom to Jamie (a girl, 1994), Mary (1996), Brian (1998) and Stephanie (2001).
Jenn in NC
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Re: 8 year old son ?...

Unread post by Jenn in NC »

Slow verbal processing *can* be a sign of dyslexia but absolutely does not have to be that. If he is fine in other ways (how's his ability to express himself in writing? and does he read well?) then I agree that just giving him a safe place (and plenty of time) to form his thoughts & words is probably best.

One thing I have found with my boys is that they sometimes really do not want to have to come up with all the words it would take to fully relate a story to me. That is just too many words. They want to be able to tell me the relevant part of it, the part they are excited about, and they want me to be able to understand and be excited with them based on just that part. It does frustrate them when I press them for more details or background info than they want to go into.

My girls on the other hand like to be pressed for detail.

Just a thought.
mommy to four boys & two girls... and another boy on the way :)
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Re: 8 year old son ?...

Unread post by my3boys »

Both myself and 2 of my dss have processing problems. Our processing speed is about as low as it can get despite average or above average IQ scores. We always have a hard time getting the thoughts out of our head and into words if that makes sense. I used to be teased as a kid for my slow speech and slow responses - I have understanding and know what I want to say, it just takes a while to come out and sometimes doesn't come out quite the way I want it to. It is especially hard under pressure liked when you are being timed or there are lots of people waiting for you to say something (I've often times gone completely blank in an under pressure situation, even being unable to pull out well known information like my birthdate or a close friends name).

I've quit doing anything like timed drills with my kids. Slow processing can also be caused by LDs or by distractibility. I got my dss a program called 'Brainware Safari' which we will begin in the fall - it is supposed to improve processing skills.
Mom to 3 busy boys ages 11, 8, and 6
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Re: 8 year old son ?...

Unread post by joy2BAMom »

Thank you all for your replies! I guess sometimes I feel like we are under the microscope b/c we chose to hs. I think it makes me too sensitive to the quirks in my children. KWIM? He reads well and spells well. But when asked in PLL to make up a story about something, he really struggles. It ends up being something very short and to the point. Like others have mentioned, I too believe part of it is that he is a boy. My daughter talks nonstop and is detail oriented and can make up songs as she sings them or stories as she is telling them. VERY different than my son. Anyway, thanks again for your input. I love this board!
Sherrie- wife to Jay for 10 years
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Re: 8 year old son ?...

Unread post by kellybell »

If he's having a tough time making up a PLL story, give him another intermediate step (and perhaps stretch a one-day assignment into two days). Suppose he's looking at a picture in PLL and has to make up the story that "happened before" it.

What you might want to do instead of just having him sit there struggling is have him sit down (perhaps near you but not interacting with you, perhaps alone in his room or the next room over -- you know what works for him) with paper and markers and draw a cartoon with about four scenes that "came before" the picture. Then later in the day or the next day, have him explain it to you. Similarly, you can have him write the story and either read it or tell it (this might be easier when he's 10 or so, not 8).

Or you could flip things around and model it for him. YOU look at the picture and give the story. He listens. A different but important skill. In a few months, he can attempt it again.

Or you could ask questions that have easy (maybe even yes-no) answers, "So, do you think this kitten is happy?" Followed by "Why not?" If he can't answer give him a few more clues, "Could it be that she is all alone?"

...Honestly, it's easier for me to "think outside the box" for someone else's kid! Homeschooling is humbling...
Kelly, wife to Jim since 1988, mom to Jamie (a girl, 1994), Mary (1996), Brian (1998) and Stephanie (2001).

Re: 8 year old son ?...

Unread post by TurnOurHearts »

I'll chime in here because I didn't see anyone mention this...

I have a ten year old boy who is very much the one that I have to try NOT to finish his sentences. From the time he was just learning to talk, it seemed as though his brain was working faster than his mouth could keep up. He's extremely bright (like his daddy) and enjoys talking (like his mommy), but I found that he seemed to struggle more when his sister & his cousin had been commanding my attention, now having moved beyond simple developmental issues. I began to wonder if he wasn't feeling like he needed to rush through his thoughts while he had my attention.

*sigh*heart rips in two*sniff*

The days that I'm careful to have one on one time with Max, the earlier in the day the better, the less I see him struggle with communicating his thoughts. My dd8 is extremely gregarious, commanding any room she occupies ~ it's easy to just be content to ride along in her wake. I had to make sure Max was getting/being allowed time to express himself to me as an individual.

No idea if this may be a contributing factor in your home, but I thought I'd share. Neither of my children are 'quiet,' but my boy is definitely the quieter of the two. It's easy for me to overlook little things like this sometimes. Aren't we thankful for the Spirit giving us what we need for EACH child?

Any help on helping my dc narrate...

Unread post by cbollin »

4littlehearts wrote:For the past 2 years I have off and on tried to have my ds narrate, either in written or oral form, short passages, sometimes even just maybe a page or a paragraph from a book. (BTW, he is in 4th grade.) It has always been a struggle for him, due to the fact that he is just not a good listener and even when he reads things himself he tends to gloss over it and not really think about what he is reading unless it is a book that has animal information that he really likes. Even then, he could only give me about 2 pieces of information from a whole page of text.

He does not have any trouble talking or putting things into words, it is just the reading part that he struggles with. He could easily tell you about any part of a movie that he really likes or possibly just tell you the plot of the whole movie without a single problem. I have tried using PLL with him in the past, he struggled with the narrations. My dds in 7th grade and 1st grade do not have any problem with this skill, but my boy on the other hand is soooo different in personality. I just get sooo frustrated that sometimes I think I should just get him a history textbook, because I am not sure how much he is retaining. I want to make sure that I am adequately preparing him educationally. Any tips or encouragement would be much appreciated. Thanks!
Some tips and more questions :)

*it is perfectly ok to have the material in front of the student when they narrate it back to you.

*ask them the questions ahead of time. Have the questions in front of them. Don't just say "tell me what you heard". Ask specific questions with WH's questions. Who was this paragraph about? What did she do? When did it happen? but that way they have something specific to look for.

*it is perfectly ok to have them read along while you read out loud.

*make sure they know the meaning of Who what how, where, when. (I say that as the mom of a child with autism and I don't take it for granted any longer)

So, what kinds of questions do you ask him in narrating? Here is one of my current favorite articles out there on strategies for Narrations including more active ideas with acting out the info if needed.
and linked from there is ... arters.pdf

one other possibility comes from a blog entry I read recently where a mom shared about how her very active 2nd grade son draws while listening to Hero Tales.
it's on this entry ... tures.html
so that drawing on dry erase board helped her son to have something to say back from the reading.
( I think the blogger is a real life friend of 4truth's)

does any of that look like helps in your situation?
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Re: Any help on helping my dc narrate...

Unread post by 4littlehearts »

Thanks Crystal, my ds just loves to draw so the idea of drawing the story may help quite a bit. I checked out the 2nd link first but tonight I will look at the other link you posted (very busy day here today). Your thoughts were very helpful as well.

I always thought that I should take away the book while my ds wrote his written narration or did an oral narration. We are doing ECC, so when he reads from the Living World Encyclopedia would it be okay to have the book in front of my ds as he writes his narration? I had been taking the book away for the writing of sentences portion but had been giving the book back to him when he was ready to illustrate the sentences he wrote. Thanks again!

Re: Any help on helping my dc narrate...

Unread post by cbollin »

I figure if I can have my Bible open in adult Sunday school class, then my children can have their books open for school too.

the ultimate in narration: leading group exercise,messing up the moves, having your students known you messed it up and they are sweet enough to follow along in spite of it. ;)

oh yeah, it's ok to have prompts during writing or talking. Even speakers have outlines and all of that.

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Comprehension/Narration Issues

Unread post by TriciaMR »

mothermayi wrote:Please help me figure this out. My 11 year old 6th grader is having a lot of trouble narrating and answering general and basic comprehension questions in some of his daily work. This is true when I am reading to him, but not so much when he is reading independently. We are using MFW RTR and it requires some read-alouds for history (“Augustus Caesar’s World” and “The Bronze Bow”). He rarely gets any of the questions correct. I read fairly slow for him and ask a question after just one paragraph and he still gets it wrong. Sometimes I will reread the sentence that contains the answer and he still gets it wrong. He will respond with an off-the-wall answer that even leaves his younger brother giggling and looking at him like “What?”

I have asked him if there was anything making this more difficult for him (i.e. I’m reading too fast, he doesn’t understand the vocabulary, the time of day, etc.). He says no and that he does understand. I asked if there is anything I can do to help him understand better and he says no, he understands. I think he says that because he might be embarrassed. His 9 year old brother is in RTR with him and he rarely gets anything wrong. My ds9 tries to help ds11 answer questions correctly so I wonder if this has something to do with his denial that he truly does not understand the readings.

History takes about an hour, sometimes longer, because I am trying to step ds11 through every paragraph. Ds9 is getting bored and fidgety because a lot of his time is being wasted since he gets it already. I have tried asking questions after reading a whole chapter, a couple of pages, then one page, now it’s down to asking questions with each paragraph and sometimes sentence. I also have him narrate short passages in 5 sentences and this is not going well. It is not as bad as the comprehension questions but he sometimes tells things out of order.

I celebrate the right answers and when he gets them wrong I am really trying to play it cool even though inside I am confused and worried about this. What can I do differently to help him? What should I do with my ds9 while babystepping ds11 through history? I seriously cannot reread the RTR history lessons twice, once for each child because it is too much reading and I have a kindy and prek to work with also.

One last thing, I have noticed this issue in English, yet this issue isn’t present in other areas such as science, math word problems, independent reading, Latin, etc. Perhaps it’s the content of the history books and/or old fashioned wording in ILL that is “messing with him.” I don’t know but what I do know is I can really use some advice and wisdom from you all. Thanks a ton!!! :)

I posted this in another forum bc I'm trying to get as much help as possible ;) .
He might be a visual learner. Can he sit next to you and read along with you? How about having him read it, with you there to discuss things that come up?
Trish - Wife to Phil, Mom to Toni(18), Charlie(14), and Trent(14)
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Julie in MN
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Re: Comprehension/Narration Issues

Unread post by Julie in MN »

Trish mentioned just what came to my mind -- maybe he needs to see the words. I'm like that -- listening floats right over my head like the wind, unless I'm either reading along or writing along.

Is this new to him, or typical over the years? If it's new, it could be a couple of things. My ds is very auditory so it came as a surprise, probably to both of us, when at some point listening alone wasn't working. I'm not sure if it was that there was more information he was hearing/noticing, or if it was that he was just more distracted as a preteen/early teen. Anyways, we tried some of the things you mentioned. I had SOTW on audio and my finger right on the pause button to summarize, it seemed like every sentence. We also did some note-taking, some reading along, a lot of extra notebooking -- different methods to help him find what he needed to do in order to learn the material. My son is also helped when he moves, so he'd listen while bouncing on a giant exercise ball or fiddling with something in his hands -- as counter-intuitive as that sounds, some folks really learn better while moving, and you can test him with narration to see if it helps or not. Augustus Caesar's World has those pages that can be copied/colored in, which helps some kids who are more artistic learners.

To some extent, I think with my son it was a phase and reflected his distracted, boyish mind. To another extent, I think it revealed some of his weaknesses and things he must learn to compensate for, even now in his college courses in 12th grade, and was a good chance to find some techniques to try.

The "classical" educator will tell you that students move from a "rhetoric" stage (memorization comes easily) to a "Logic" stage (more abstract/analytical), and maybe that transition is awkward for some? I don't know, I feel my ds has gone in and out of stages and I'm just glad I'm right there to notice them before they get out-of-hand.

It sounds like you have some good observations already to get you started.
Julie, married 29 yrs, finding our way without Shane
Reid (21) college student; used MFW 3rd-12th grades (2004-2014)
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