I am really struggling with narration. I have just started homeschooling this year trying to implement CM methods. My son started out fine learning to narrate. He was doing the Bible and aseop fables. I would also have him narrate some science and history. Now he wants to refuse to narrate. He says oh do I have to narrate? I don’t know what to do. I tell him he needs to persevere because it will get easier the more he tries. It is such a struggle to get him to narrate. He has been telling me that he doesn’t like to narrate some subjects. I really don’t know what to do because it is becoming a discipline issue and not a joy. Can anyone help me on this. He is almost 7 years old.
He’s only 6?? You need to lighten up, Mommy. Pick a different subject everyday and have him narrate that one only. Not all of them everyday.
Like Ginger said, you may want to limit your son’s narrations so that he can get used to things at a slower clip. Another thing you may want to do is take a look at the narration ideas on this site. That can help add some spice to things and our guys can even narrate without knowing they are doing it!
A couple of other ideas for narration that are not on the list: Have him make up a question to ask you and then tell you if you are right or not, do something ‘like’ a character in the book (i.e., make a cake like Francis did, etc.), dress-ups can be another narration, though that is close to dramatizing a story and the referenced page will go over that as well. I can tell you are doing a great job because you are interested in finding what will work!
I must say that I am not very imaginative in my ways of narration. I tend to use the “Tell me what you remember?” kind of questions. So I will pray that God will show me ways to spice it up in how I get him to narrate.
I also see that I didn’t clarify properly. I actually don’t have him do an narration on everything every day. I usually only have him narrate once a day. The only problem is that I wanted to have him narrate other than only his favourites, which happen to be the bible and his aesop fable. Do I just then stick to only what he wants to narrate? Or do I keep pushing him (and I am trying to do so gently) to do other books such as history or science instead of just his favourites. I must say that he also likes picture study to tell what he remembers in the picture. Did anyone else just does the child’s favourites.
Thank you for your impute on this subject.
We don’t just do favorites, but with his young age you might decide to do that. Love always thinks the best, so you want to first assume that his reason is that it’s just too hard at 6yo. You know your son best and can tell if he’s starting to pull some tricky stuff on you later on. With things that are harder, you may want to either just leave it alone or being doing more of the hands-on type of narration here and there. Drawing is always an easy one, and is very appealing to a child when you do it with them.
Thank you Cindy, I will just try to work on favourites for now and then see. I was very encouraged by what you said to be creative. I ended up this morning using my bible felts that I had bought a couple of years ago and both he and his sister acted out one of the accounts from the bible as I read it. He was very excited and like Ginger said I will try to be more laid back about it. Thank you once again for the encouragement. I also like the drawing part. I will try that with some of his less favourite subjects.
Hi Kim, A very simple idea that has helped my just-7-yr.-old has been to make a game between us. I read about one paragraph, then juggle two different colored pieces in my hands and she chooses one hand. Pink-she narrates, green-I narrate. It’s added a bit of fun and variety to the process, and reminds me of what I’m asking her to do. The Ambleside website also has some thoughts and suggestions for narration. Hope this is helpful.
That is a great idea! I will have to remember that and maybe have a colored ball for each child and one for me and have them pull one out of a bag. I don’t have 3 hands.
Ok, this is humbling. I just gave a suggestion about narration, and remembered that I’ve been meaning to ask a question on the subject!! My just-7-yr.-old and I have been working on narration since the beginning of this school year. It took us a while to “get going,” but at a pretty low-key level we seem to be perking along. My question – I’m not sure at all that if asked about a narration done several weeks ago that she’d be able to say much. Isn’t that the goal of the whole process? At this level, do others try to ascertain how much is being retained? How do you evaluate the effectiveness of what you’re doing with your child?
Thanks for any input!
I know just what you mean, Nancy. I think at this level, they would be hard pressed to repeat a narration from another day (maybe even the day before!). However, I do not measure that so much. My thoughts on this may not be pure cm; they have morphed over the years. Perhaps someone can give you a better answer, but here are my thoughts:
As we go along, when I see that we are coming across something that has been mentioned before, I will often stop and say something like, “We’ve heard that before, what does it mean?” For instance yesterday we came across the term ‘ectotherm’ which we had covered just a week before. I said, “Oh, there’s a word we know, what does it mean?” One could tell me after some thought, two could not, so we just looked back in the book and even I remember the definition this morning .
There is a lot of ‘behind the scenes’ work going on in learning to narrate. Consider these: Is the child getting the flow of God’s hand in history; is she picking up the general idea of what we’re trying to learn here; is she following along in a story such that I can help to connect-the-dots, so to speak, with a character’s, well, character for lack of a better term; is she understanding what leads to destruction and what brings spiritual prosperity; is her heart being affected for the Lord and tending to think as He thinks; is she learning the art of summarizing and gleaning information and expanding her vocabulary in doing so?
Then, of course, there is the important goal of learning to learn (and enjoy it). What you are building now is a foundation such that when they need an answer they know how to get it and when they come across this ‘stuff,’ these ‘people’ again, they will have a familiarity with the subject such that they will be encouraged, and they will have the composition skills to be able to pass on what they have learned to others.
Short question, long answer.
Thank you Nancy for the idea for picking who narrates. He loves games so anything to spur him along. That is also a question that I have pondered regarding narration. There is also times that my son could not remember of what he had narrated previously. Does perhaps the skills of remembering increase as they get better with narrating. I do agree with what you said Cindy, about the overall learning of their character towards God. That is the most important thing about learning in the first place.
Anymore thoughts on this would be wonderful to hear.
Cindy – Thanks so much for your “long” answer! It gives me encouragement and lots to think about. I appreciate your time! Nancy G.
Is he still willing to narrate Aesop and the Bible readings? I must admit that I had a time weaning all of my boys off of “Aesop”. I personally consider Aesop to be perfectly designed for beginning narrators. When we would run into tough times narrating, I would often “pull back” and just narrate Aesop for a couple of weeks. Something about this seemed to jar the ability back.
It did take me some time to get my boys “happy” with the idea of narrating their least favorite subjects. I have one who still narrates literature readings with an unhappy look on his face. He tends to give “reduced Shakespeare” type narrations of things he does not care for. LOL (Have you ever seen the Reduced Shakespeare company? They do entire plays with three guys in fifteen seconds. It’s hilarious!)
I have one other story about narration and retention that has really stuck with me and influenced me over the years when it seems at times that narration is just a struggle and the child isn’t getting much out of this.
This is from several years ago, when my oldest son was doing Ambleside. He was reading Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson and was still in his stage of not wanting to narrate literature. We struggled and there were remonstrances, some long mornings, and I got some of the most awful narrations. I really doubted he was understanding the book at all. I was doing a lot of second-guessing and beating myself up, plus just not understanding why the kid who never forgot anything he read or anything anyone told him about science, couldn’t tell me more than four words about the literature chapter he just read. I was very frustrated.
We did finish Kidnapped, and went on to another literature book, which he was also giving terrible narrations on, when something happened to change my perspective. Masterpiece Theater did a presentation of Kidnapped. So we all watched it as a family. My dh is not a huge reader, especially of earlier British literature, and he was not following the story on the TV very well. I started to “fill in” for him, when to my utter astonishment, my son said “No, I’ll do it” and proceeded to tell his dad exactly what was happening, who all the characters were, and what was going to happen next. He would also fill in for the Scottish words and tell dh what they meant. This, the kid who could not tell me anything at all after reading the chapters of the very book! I was so surprised I think I sat for the rest of the movie with my mouth hanging open. Believe me, the child showed NO evidence during school that he had any idea WHAT was going on, he had not seen the video previously–this was “off the cuff” as we all watched.
THAT was when I began to suspect that Charlotte was smarter than I thought she was, and that there is something so vital about narration that it even “works” when it doesn’t look on the surface like it is working. Like a bamboo growing or something.
I still get some good narrations and some lousy narrations, even now. But I worry about it less, as I know that somewhere deep down in that head, even those attempts at narration that don’t look like much are laying down a layer, however thin, that is making up the mental fabric of my sons.
You do not know how encouraging you have all been. I’m going to keep persevering with these narrations and be confident that they are learning even if it doesn’t show. I will try to of course be creative in the subjects that he doesn’t like to narrate and gradually keep working on this. Again I want to say thank you so much for all the advice.
You’ve had some fantastic replies here I just wanted to add that when we first started narrations the only thing I expected my children to narrate was Aesop Fables. I found/find these stories quite short and they are easy to narrate. It got them into the habit of narrating regularly and then the rest followed from there.
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