Topic | Narration Help

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  • Ashley
    Participant

    I have a question regarding narration.

    What do I do if my child is missing a lot of information and or the key components of a story when narrating back?

    Many times my kiddos will listen to a story from one of our living books that we are using and afterwards they are unable to tell me back anything of real substance. I even stop after a short while to make it more manageable for them and they still sit there dumbfounded unable to retell any of the main information that was being read aloud.

    For instance — if we are reading a book in science that is talking about the human skeleton and I ask for a narration, they can tell me that the book is about the human skeleton and that bones are hard, but that’s about it.

    Am I supposed to reread everything that they couldn’t narrate? Do I have them try to reread it themselves? My kiddos are 8 and older. How do you handle an older student who isn’t paying attention and retaining an oral lesson? I don’t know how to navigate this.

    Thanks.

    -Ashley

    ErinD
    Participant

    A few thoughts:

    • You could ask leading questions to help them identify the most important things. That is totally age-appropriate. In fact, you can use leading questions before every narration until kids are 9 or 10.
    • After they are more comfortable with that, sometimes I ask questions like, “What happened at the beginning?” or “What happened at the end?” to help them get it all. Those are more general questions, rather than specific ones.
    • Narrating a story is easier than narrating a science book, so if you want to make it easier for them, have them narrate from literature or a history story instead of science.
    • Sometimes when I am trying to focus on a particular skill (like narration), I use books that are too easy for them. Sometimes it’s hard for kids to concentrate on two things at once – comprehending the story AND narrating back. If you use a really easy book, like a picture book, that’s takes one hard thing away and gives them more room to concentrate on the narrating part. I often do this when I’m introducing a new writing skill.

    One more thought: do you ever have them narrate something that they read themselves, rather than something you read to them? Sometimes that helps, too, if they read it themselves. Writing With Ease (which is what I use as a guide to narration, etc.) starts doing that in 3rd grade, so you could try that with your kids, too, if you want. That might also help them pay attention.

    I hope something there is helpful. 🙂

    Tamara Bell
    Moderator

    Narrating science can be SO hard.  There are many terms that are unfamiliar with science when compared to literature.  We have an 18-part blog series titled Narration Q & A that goes into all areas of narration: why, how, general help, raising the bar, written narrations, high school narrations, and more.

    The post covering Setting Them Up for Success may prove beneficial in this situation.  It may be helpful for you to glance ahead, give them a general gist of what is going to be covered during this reading, and also write down some science words/definitions that are going to be heard during this reading.  Just a few.  When you do ask for a narration make sure that you direct the narration prompt slightly.  This is not in opposition to Charlotte’s method.   You might say something like, “Tell me all you can about the femur,” or, “Please explain to me how the digestive system functions.”  These sorts of prompts get them to focus on 1 particular piece of the reading rather than asking for a broad retelling.

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