Topic | Narration doesn’t come easy….


This topic contains 8 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  live2inspire 8 years, 11 months ago.

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  • live2inspire

    My 7-1/2 dd has a problem narrating (orally). Whether she reads it herself, or I read it to her, she has trouble “giving it back to me”. I’ve tried very short paragraphs to make it easier, too. I decided today we would approach it slowly with illustrations.

    My question is: When narrating this way, is the child allowed to keep the book open to refer to while she makes her illustrations? From my understanding, narrating should come from the head, not the revisiting of the information.

    Uhhhh – she just came to me with her illustrated narration and it seems she still doesn’t understand. I know — patience, but does anyone have any tips and/or encouraging words?


    I’m right there with you. I have an 8ds and a 6dd and I have tried narrating with them but they haven’t really got the hang of it. They do well when I ask questions about the reading but not to narrate to me. I think my problem is that I don’t try it consistently enough. Do you narrate each day or each week, how often are we suppose to have them narrate?

    I’ll be interested to hear what everyone has to say about your question.



    You are right to keep it short; and there are so many ways to narrate a selection. Illustrations are good. You could offer to draw with her, asking her opinion. I think it’s okay to have the book open, but I am no expert. She’s still little and you don’t want narrations to become drudgery to her – wait and do that later (I’m kidding!!).

    Here are just a few other ideas:

    Is there something that she enjoys doing? Playdough? Acting? Setting up her dolls/animals?

    Before you read you could tell her it’s her turn to ask you a question or two about the selection. Then she can decide if you’re correct!

    You can ask sequence sorts of questions (what happened first, next, etc).

    You might act something out and let her laugh at you.

    You can model curiousity (I want to know more about___ so I’m going to put that on our library list for next time to look up…or let’s go look that up on the internet).

    My point is not to do handstands for our children so that they have ‘fun.’ But learning can be rich and that is so much more enjoyable.

    Your attitude will speak volumes to your child. I speak from experience when I say that the child will quickly pick up an attitude of frustration in you.

    I’ve also had times when I discovered the root cause was tiredness, of all things. We’ve also had rebellion; just an attitude of ‘this is your thing, Mom, and I’m not going to cooperate.’ But it doesn’t sound like you have that issue, thankfully.

    Shelly, we do narrate daily. Not everything we read, though. I know that goes against what may be best, though. I typically have them narrate those things that may require an added dose of attentiveness. I know they are paying attention when I’m reading Little House on the Prairie, for instance.

    Do not weary in well-doing!




    Narration is hard! I belong to a bookclub and I decided to do narration for myself with our monthly book selections. I read part of a chapter, closed the book and narrated it to myself. My head hurt when I first started, and I was humbled by how difficult the task was! But I have improved (sort of) with time. I encourage you to be patient with your daughter as she learns this new skill.

    One thing you can do is model narration yourself. Read a short section and then you narrate it without asking her to do it. After awhile, you could then say, “Did I miss anything?” If your daughter wants to add something you missed, fine. If not, continue your reading and narrate yourself again. Gradually increase your daughter’s participation in the narrations.

    You can also say to your child, “Tell me ONE thing I just read.” No matter what ONE thing she picks to narrate, accept it. Perhaps add something to it or simply say, “Okay, let’s continue with the story.”

    Try narrating yourself but get the details mixed up and let her correct you.

    Drawing a scene from a story is fun, if your daughter likes drawing. You could ask her the most exciting part of the story or her favorite character and ask for an illustration of that. Again, don’t expect big results at first. My kids reluctantly drew pictures as narration in the beginning, but now they draw characters and scenes, make board games and diaramas and posters and maps…but this is the course of narrating for a few years.

    When my oldest first starting narrating, she didn’t do a good job. I remember her saying, “I want you to read the books but I DO NOT WANT TO NARRATE!” I was disappointed and frustrated. But now she can narrate very well. My second child was better in the beginning, and I think it’s because he heard his older sister narrate and he followed her example. The process wasn’t entirely new to him like it was for my older child.

    Don’t be afraid to take it slowly. With practice, it will come.


    Ladies, thanks so much for your experienced insight. Tomorrow I will ask for one thing from the story and see what comes back! I like that idea. We are still at the point of narrating only a sentence or a paragraph worth of material at a time for history or science type books (like now we are reading Minn of the Mississippi and American Tall Tales, and I will stop periodically and ask for a narration and then go on), but for fiction she can briefly tell me “what happened” in the chapter she just read.

    I do still resort to asking questions, which seems to be taboo to the narration idea, like I will ask, “What was the name of the city I just read about?”

    Sonya Shafer

    In addition to all the great ideas already given, you might try this: Before you read, list two or three key words that she will hear in the upcoming passage. A little whiteboard sometimes works well for this, or just use paper. Leave the list in sight as you read, and let her look at that list when she narrates. Those key words will give her mental hooks to hang her thoughts on and help her organize what she wants to say. This approach can help her identify those key thoughts, like what the name of the city was, but without the questioning. (Plus, she’ll be seeing the spelling of those key words. 🙂 )

    You might also read through the great tips on narration that were featured in the CM Blog Carnival last year. More good ideas are given there.


    Thanks, Sonya. I can see how giving a brief list of keyword works on many levels. I never thought of it, though!

    I guess I will have to get a whiteboard – I have always resisted them because the markers stain everything, but they have so many uses and are so much more FUN than plain old paper. A whiteboard seems to be on every list of can’t-live-without items for homeschoolers.


    Wow – I took Sonya’s advice and looked at the blog carnival about narration (the link is in her post) and I want to put a link directly to the Harmony Art Mom’s post on her family’s system of narration and how it builds through the years – from grade one through grade 8 or so. Very illuminating real life examples.

    I like the way that written narration became, as she put it, a culmination to their week’s studies. She isn’t overdoing the requirements to the level of tedium, and her students clearly have a full understanding of the material.

    Excellent – I will steer in this direction, and remember that this is a process.

    Thanks, Sonya, for directing us to this carnival. I had looked at it before but not got as far as Barb’s fabulous entry.


    Thank you to all who posted. Sonya, I don’t know why I didn’t think of those “hooks” – I viewed your DVD seminar just three weeks ago and am remembering now how I thought “what a great idea” — already I had forgotten about it! LOL – and I’m wondering why my 7-1/2 year old can’t give ME information back.

    Hugs of thanks-


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