Saturday, September 19, 2009

Narration with the not-natural narrator

Charlotte Mason emphasized the importance of Narration in the learning process. Narration is the process of telling back in your own words, in detail, a story, event, or other information. Narration is important because it causes the person to truly process the information in their head, and kind of sets it into the memory.

However, narration is a learned skill. Many children are natural narrators, although when first introduced to it in a "Schooling" setting, they may freeze with a type of "test anxiety". There are a few children out there that normal oral narration does not come naturally.

Delta is one of these children. He was a late talker, and then stammered for years. Even now, he has a hard time expressing his thoughts in everyday life. He has improved a lot. (His speach has been evaluated a few times along the years, and he is in the "normal" range - so it isn't a "problem" - but it is a bit of a challenge.

So for years, when Mike would ask Delta "What did you do today" - the answer was (and is) almost always "Nothing" or "I don't know". At times I think we could see a huge crash, watch the fire fighters put out the fire - and when asked what happened today, Delta would answer "I don't know". So I knew that narration would be a challenge.

We have completed week 2 of year 1 with Delta so far. I have gotten a couple of good narrations from him, and a few with almost nothing. I am so far just having him narrate 50 Famous Stories, and Aesop as I feel those are the easier readings. (Next week I will be including the Blue Fairy book).

For Aesop - if he can't narrate directly, I have found that asking him to draw a picture, then tell me has helped. For 50 Famous Stories, I am trying having him act it out with finger puppets. Asking questions like "What was the best part of the story" seems to work better for Delta than asking "What happened". I have also narrated some stories for him, to demonstrate what I want.

It can be frustrating working with the children that don't naturally narrate. It can be easy to feel that they aren't retaining anything. Keep doing the readings. Keep working on the narrations, knowing that this is an area that is a weakness. Trust in the process - it will happen. Trust that some of the information is going to stay in the brain, even if not obvious immediately. Some of it will start coming out while they are playing.

Finally, I try to keep in mind that what we are doing is better than what I think he would be doing in school.


  1. This is a good point. CM said that all children are natural narrators, but actually not all children are highly verbal. So what you say makes a lot of sense.

  2. Thanks for the comment. I do think that the narrating tendency is in all children - but that for some children, including Delta, there are other challenges making it a harder process for them.

  3. Very good point!!! Thanks for sharing it with us!! Be Blessed, Angie in GA

  4. Thanks! I'm glad you liked the article.

  5. I have found the same to be true. Keep plugging along. They do amaze you at some points along the way with what they can accomplish.