Topic | Narration woes…help, please?

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  • lorienvanness

    How often do you ask for written narrations from your 13 and 11-year-old children? I feel like we have lost our way on narration in general. We are coming out of  a rough  couple of years that included a new baby who is now (almost a preschooler) two moves and chronic illness on my part. Things are finally improving but I am feeling like the skill of narration has really atrophied.

    I am looking for input on how often you ask for written narrations from books that are in progress, what length you look for and advice on encouraging a 13-year old who wants to write really stilted narrations.



    We’re not to that age yet, so take my advice with a grain of salt 🙂

    What if you went back to oral narrations for awhile, and worked on those? I’m thinking the practice of oral composition might help with more fluent written narrations?

    Or maybe you could have them compose orally, and then you write it out and they copy it? I realize that’s going back a few steps, but if it helps create better written narrations? Sometimes taking a step or two back, and retraining for a month or two, can really help.


    I would just be consistent. Pick two days a week to alternate with oral narrations, or with copywork. Even if their written narrations are short, short ones are still narrations. As they get used to doing it, they will naturally become longer and more detailed.
    I will tell you one thing that has helped with written narrations at our house and that is using the computer to type it out. My daughter does studied dictation with paper and pencil at least 3 days a week, and we do a little cursive copywork with paper and pencil, but for her written narrations, I allow her to write them on Word. She flies with this because I think sometimes their thoughts are coming faster than their hands can get it out on paper and they are frustrated by it. I don’t know if typing it on the computer is very CM, or if many here on the forum would agree with it, but that’s our process. She does 1 or 2 written narrations a week, studied dictation every day, and orally narrates 1 or 2 times a week. As we get more into the flow, we will increase all of this over time. One thing that has really helped me to incorporate these CM methods is using a CM-style curriculum that tells us when to narrate, when to dictate, and so on. As she progresses through it, narrations will increase in difficulty and frequency.
    I say take it slow for now, and if two sentences is all they can muster, then require two sentences, 2 or 3 days a week, and always require oral narrations because they are foundational. After a month, then begin to require three sentences and so on.
    For literature, I plan to follow a this method that I picked up from a blog: Read a chapter a day, orally narrate two days, then on the third day require a written narration. We will just work through literature in that manner. And at the end of the book, require some type of book report or project. (probably not very CM either!) One thing that sort of ruined her ability to orally narrate well was using a textbook style reader with a question and answer method. It kills their ability to think.
    Whatever you do, consistency is key. It’s absolutely necessary to stick with it and require it and do not waiver. I think Sonya’s free resource called “Five Steps to Successful Narration” would be a great help to you. I’ve posted the link here for you:

    I hope that helps! Don’t worry too much. I’m sure they’ll pick up on it soon.


    A student can’t write a narration if he/she is having trouble narrating at all. I would go back to oral narrations for a few weeks at least.

    Once their oral narrations are coming more easily, you could add in one written narration a week and move up to two after a bit more time.

    I wouldn’t worry about the length at this point, as long as they are applying themselves. The length of a student’s narration should naturally increase as the process becomes easier for him/her.

    One thing that has been of huge benefit to my just turned 14 year old daughter, has been to give her off of grammar and copy work for a couple of months and have her focus on writing. She’s been writing a narration each day-about a page in length-and her writing skills have improved dramatically. I highly recommend trying this sometime in 8th grade or so.


    For my kids we start with 1 written narration per week when they are around 4th grade.  We increase from there.  So if you are getting resistance go for that for a month, then increase it to two per week, etc.  My current 14 year old does a mix of oral and written narration.  Lots of oral daily and usually 1 written every other day, sometimes daily.


    Thanks, these are all great ideas!


    Jennie33 Thank you for your many helpful tips and for taking the time to compose such lengthy response. I think I will give letting them type for written narrations and see if that improves things along with going back to more oral narrations!

Viewing 7 posts - 1 through 7 (of 7 total)
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