We love using narration in our homeschool, especially in the younger grades. However, being a non-CM (Charlotte Mason) homeschooler, I can sometimes feel like I’m not adopting her methods perfectly. Like maybe I’m being judged by the strict CM homeschoolers. I know I’m not, but it’s still in the back of my mind. So, if you’re intimidated to try narration because you haven’t adopted the whole Charlotte Mason philosophy and methodology into your homeschooling, then this post is for you.
Here’s narration for the rest of us.
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What is narration?
A great place to start is the website Simply Charlotte Mason. Here’s how they define narration:
Considering what you read, pondering how it applies to other ideas you’ve gained, putting it into order, recalling details, mixing it with your opinion, and then forming those thoughts into coherent sentences and telling them to someone else is when real learning takes place
The beauty of narration is that it doesn’t take prep from mom, because once you learn how to guide your children through the process, and once they’ve had some practice with trying narration, it’s an easy method to use.
Best of all, narration engages the learner, who has to employ higher level thinking skills to complete the task. Win!
When can you use it?
You can pull in narration chapter by chapter while your child is reading a book and it provides better assessment than a dry old book report.
You can also try it with any living books you have for your study of history or science. It’s also a great method for reading the Bible with children, young and old alike!
Sign up below for a narration cheat sheet!
Who can use it?
While narration is ideal at the younger grades, older students can see success with it as well.
Talkative children will find narration a natural fit for them, but you will also have the opportunity to help them learn to be concise and well-reasoned with their words.
Quieter or slower children will also be able to complete narrations much easier than taking comprehension quizzes or pointless worksheets to interact with the information.
- Tell me all you know about…
- Explain how…
- Describe our trip to the shore, nature walk, etc.
- Describe anything new you just learned from this chapter.
- Tell me five things you learned about…
- Tell back the story (passage, episode, chapter) in your own words.
- Ask or write six questions covering the material of this chapter (good for an older student).
- Draw a picture, map, or likeness of…
- What did you learn about (this person) in this chapter – fictional or real
Why is narration a good practice to use in homeschooling?
Narration provides an excellent way to assess learning without giving a “standard” test in the subject, which is probably filled with low level questions anyway. Charlotte Mason thought that grasping a concept of the whole is better than memorizing a list of irrelevant details.
Narration embraces the concept of mastery learning – which means you’re aiming for complete mastery before moving on to a higher level topic. The traditional way of learning is to get “at least” a passing grade before moving on. But if your student gets an 80% on the test, that means they didn’t understand 20% of the material! Is it actually good pedagogy to move on from there?
With narration, your student gives a satisfactory or unsatisfactory narration. If he doesn’t show satisfactory understanding, then you have the opportunity to find out where your student is lacking and help them gain mastery.
Practically speaking, how does it look?
How to start with a book in grades 2-3:
- Parent reads first chapter as a “freebie,” meaning no narration is required
- The following day, share the reading with the student and she will narrate the entire chapter
- All the other chapters can be read silently by the student and narrated
- One narration can be recorded neatly by mom, and the student will later copy it into her composition book over a period of three days
When helping your children give more accurate historical narrations, you could display important names, dates, and places for them to use. This would apply to science terminology as well in their science narrations.
Experiment with narration using a variety of books. It fits many different situations!
So there you have it. Narration for the rest of us! Is narration a part of your homeschool already or will you give it a try?
Download a printable narration cheat sheet below or find it in my members-only resource library.