Friday, September 12, 2008

A Charlotte Mason Education: Narration

This summer Lucy read a great many books. But many times, even immediately after she'd finished a book, if I asked her what the book was about she'd be unable to tell me. If you've had this experience with your children, try narration! Narration requires children to really focus on what they are reading, and it enables them to have better recall. The premise is simple. Your child reads something (for younger children, a paragraph or short passage, moving up to chapters, and then even whole books as they get older), then immediately tells it back to you in their own words. The narration can be either oral, written, or drawn. We use a little bit of each of these, often depending on how the reading has inspired Lucy to respond. Narration can be used in any subject, and can also be great for recalling something the child just heard (say, something you've just read to them, or a CD they've listened to) or saw (a piece of art, movies, plays, etc.).

I'm amazed at how well this method has worked for Lucy. We've started practicing narration using Aesop's fables, which are short enough for Lucy's age. At first, Lucy couldn't recall a single thing after reading a story just once. Now, just a few weeks later, she narrates it back to me easily. She's noticed the change too, and it's amazing to see how proud she is of herself.

Once you're aware of narration, you'll probably notice that your kids already naturally do this. When children are excited about something they have just seen, heard, or read, they want to tell you all about it, so you can share their excitement!

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