Tips for Narration

Narration is the process of telling back what has been learned or read. Narrations are usually done orally, but as the child grows older (around age 12) and his writing skills increase, the narrations can be written, as well. Narration can also be accomplished creatively through various methods including painting, drawing, sculpting, play-acting, etc.

Because people frequently ask me how to deal with children narrating the same passage at the same time when reading to the kiddos all together, I’ll give a brief answer about how we’ve dealt with this issue in our home.

After each reading selection, I call on one of the children to narrate — they don’t know who it will be from one time to the next. Sometimes if I feel the first narration was sketchy, I’ll call on the other to narrate any additional information he or she would like to add to the earlier narration.

We do brief oral narrations after every subject each day — whether the subject was covered together orally or studied independently. We only do written narrations a couple of times a week for just a few carefully chosen subjects.

Many times people starting narration for the first time discover that their children are hesitant to narrate. When asked to tell about the story, the child responds, “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember.”

If you’re hearing “I don’t know” constantly, one of several things could be happening. Perhaps the material is too difficult for the child, or the passage could be too long. For beginners, have them do a narration after reading only a short paragraph or two. Possibly the child just isn’t experienced enough with narration yet to attempt anything long or complex.

When we were first starting to use oral narrations, I found that Aesop’s Fables and the Beattrix Potter books contained just about the right amount of material for my beginning narrators. These books contained short stories that could be read completely in one easy sitting.

One trick I learned to help the reluctant narrator is this: when I heard the “I don’t know/I don’t remember” response, I’d say something goofy that had absolutely nothing to do with the story in question (with a smiling glint in my eye), such as: “So, the little red wagon turned into a purple frog. Is that what happened?”

Then my reluctant little narrator would say, “NO, Mommy! That’s not what happened — you’re funny!” With a giggle and a huge smile, they’d be off and running, giving me a detailed description of the story they “didn’t remember” just moments before.

Works every time.

Just my humble thoughts — following a quarter century of homeschooling — for what it’s worth.


51BlGAcUHnL(Excerpted and adapted with permission from A Twaddle-Free Education: An Introduction to Charlotte Mason’s Timeless Educational Ideas.)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Deborah Taylor-Hough is a long-time homeschooling mother of three (now adult) children as well as a freelance writer and the author of the bestselling Frozen Assets cookbook series and A Simple Choice: A Practical Guide to Saving Your Time, Money and Sanity.  Visit Debi on Facebook.

One response to “Tips for Narration

  1. Lot of smarts in that point!

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