Narrations – confessions of a homeschool mom


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  • Polly

    I really struggle with narrations.  There it is.  It’s rather embarrassing.  My son doesn’t like to do it.  Nor do my daughters.  I’ve read for years about it but I still feel rather clueless.  For example, I read, “prepare the narration passage in advance.”  What does that mean?  I almost feel like it would be beneficial to have a book of narration passages that I could go through.  Also, how long is too long? Every night we read a chapter of the Bible and I ask the children to tell me what happened.  Is that too long?  Or, Hillyer’s Story of the World – is one chapter too long to expect an 8 year old (he will be 9 in May) to orally narrate?  I don’t normally ask for narration’s after our read a louds.  My children are 18, 8 and 5.  I feel like narration is taking the joy out of learning.  However, I do believe that Charlotte is right on in its’ importance.  

    Thanks for the help!



    I get grumblings about narrations too.  Every time I take a book off the shelf to read, the kids immediately ask “Are we going to have to narrate this?”  I simply tell them that instead of narrating they are more than welcome to fill out a worksheet about what was read. This usually works, and the grumbling stops.  I have found that if the reading selection is a story the kids can narrate back rather long chapters.  But if we are reading for information, like from our Apologia science book, it’s harder for the kids.  If the selections is long, try reading part of it and then asking for the narration, and then finish the reading and ask for another narration.  At least this is what I do and it works well.

    Sometimes after we read we will do a notebooking page about what we read.  The kids will illustrate the page and write about things they remember.  This breaks up the monotony of oral narration for us, but the kids are still having to get their information from what they remember.  It’s like an oral narration (except every detail doesn’t have to be put down, only what he wants to talk about, interesting facts, dates, etc.) and my young son likes it.

    My kids would much rather not do narration at all, but then again they would much rather not do math or spelling either.

    Narration is just a part of school, and we keep pressing on.  I have found that the more consistent I am with having them narrate, the easier it gets.  

    Oh, and I don’t have them narrate everything we read.  I think some reading should just be for pleasure, and you don’t want to take away their love of reading or hearing you read aloud.

    Just let them know which readings will require an oral narration, and also that there are reading times that will not require one.  

    I hope I’ve helped a little.  This is what we do, I’m sure others will have some good advice too!




    I completely agree with Michelle, and we do almost the exact same things in our homeschool.  Keep pluggin away…it does get better.  We eased into narrations with Aesop’s Fables and short picture books.  I even had them narrate stories they knew really well, which helps with the narration skills and eases the pressure of having to remember new information. 

    HTH, Faith 🙂


    Pollysoup, have you seen Writing with Ease by Susan Wise Bauer? She walks you through the narration process, even gives you narration selections. I found this helpful to get rolling.


    I wrote a post on my blog about narration and have some narration bookmarks to help me come up with different ideas for narrations.  

    For science I sometimes have the Alien Scientist come and he asks questions about what they read in a funny voice and gets everything wrong.  My kids think it’s hilarious and work really hard on making sure he (me) understands the topic.


    Rachel White

    Yes, a chapter of either one of those is too long; esp. if you haven’t been consistently requiring it for 3 years. My children (8 and 9) have been narrating since K and the ‘flow’ of it didn’t start until last year, so it takes a good 2 years to get a grasp of it from the child. I require a complete narration from their own personal reads; they can do longer portions from self-reading. However, regarding other out-loud readings, they wouldn’t be able to do a chapter, either. Probably 3-4 paragraphs, depending on length.

    when we started narrating, I only read one sentence at a time, then increased from there; taking it very slowly and not every sentence was required to be narrated. I never prepare anything beforehand for oral narrations. I’ve read the book along with them so I know whether they’re getting it right or not; I just follow along in the book as they narrate. I never require a narration at the end of the day; the brain just isn’t as fresh by then. I do it all earlier.

    Just keep practicing and start small. Also, try to make it more casual; when they’re excited about a book they just read ask them to tell you about it-that’s narrating! There are other subtle practice methods as well.



    Thanks, ladies!

    I too struggle with narration.  My sons have just begun this year with narrating.  So I understand it is a learning process.  They are 7 & 8.  Thank you all for the suggestions.  I will have to also step back and take it slower.  I’m sure that will help.  I do know that my boys would rather narrate other ways than orally.  They will draw or build in lincoln logs or legos what has happened in the story.  We’ve been reading Treasure Island, and while I don’t require narration from read alouds, they have been doing narrations on their own from that book.  Re-enacting all the parts with their little men and lincoln logs (building the cabin and everything).  So some narration seems to happen naturally.  I generally require narration from Bible readings/history and science. 


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