Submit your questions about narration!

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  • Jordan Smith

    This week on the SCM blog, Sonya will be starting a new series answering questions about narration. We have five questions so far, but we want to answer your questions as well. Here are the questions we’re already planning to cover:

    • What do I do if my child leaves out a key point in a narration?
    • What’s the difference between a narration question and a direct question on the content?
    • When and how should I make the transition to having my child do written narrations?
    • Should I be correcting my child’s written narrations?
    • Is narration enough for high school level studies?

    Do you have another narration question we can answer during this series? Post it in this thread so we can be sure to answer it.


    Along the lines of written narration,

    is there some kind of guide your recommend for the teacher to use to help our children improve upon their written narrations?

    How do we know what needs to be corrected for our children if we are not that great at writing?

    Missy OH

    The SCM site has a great list of narration prompts that I would like to see divided into approximate age appropriate sections. Not exactly what you are asking for but something I thought of when I printed it out recently.

    Alicia Hart

    Oh-this is FAB-U-LOUS!  Thanks so much. 

    All of those are great questions.  Other ones that comes to mind is:

    How can I get my child to stop narrating word for word/parroting passages?  How can I encourage her to put it into her own words? 

    Another one similar to the question about leaving information  out would be:  What do I do if my child narrates back with incorrect information – esp on something like a Bible narration?

    If my child is narrating things out of order?

    Thanks so much SCM!



    I am smiling from ear to ear as I read Jordan’s post above!  A detailed look at the five questions above would be absolutely fantastic.  

    I think wings2fly’s comment above on written narration is extremely important, also:  “How do we know what needs to be corrected for our children if we are not that great at writing?”  

    It seems to me that there are a LOT of threads here on the SCM forum and elsewhere on the internet where CM homeschooling mothers struggle with this issue. 

    Now, whether it’s because a) they are truly not that great at writing,  or b) they have a lack of confidence or a personality that just fears “missing something”…this issue is a biggie.  Many of us think we need to turn away from written narration and onto a formal writing program as a result of one or both of these issues.

    Can’t wait to see the blog post!  Thank you so much, SCM!


    Mentioned above by Lishie, I need this one, too:

    “How can I get my child to stop narrating word for word/parroting passages?  How can I encourage her to put it into her own words?”


    Also on my list:   when a child is first beginning written narrations (or at any time), is it acceptable for the child to have the book close by as they are writing?  (my 11 year old son is always wanting the book beside him, saying that he wants to make sure he spells the names of characters correctly, or to check other spellings).  He is a pretty honest child and I have seen no evidence of him copying passages from the book.  Plagarism is not my concern.  I just fear the skill/act of narration is not at the same level if he is in any way re-reading passages alongside writing the narration.  Yet how can be certain he is ONLY checking spelling.  Thinking of the “we narrate after ONE, single, full attention reading of a passage” rule.   I have tried writing key character names, places and such on a whiteboard for him, but he still prefers the book to be at his side. 


    What are the characteristics of a good narration? It is important that they have a clear beginning, middle and end of the story? Speak in complete sentences? What other specifics would define a good narration?

    Excellent point, Angelina. I am really looking forward to this series!

    Another concern that is frequently questioned: How to keep up with or judge narrations of independent readers/older students when mom hasn’t read everything first herself.


    This will be great. Thanks Sonya. I echo many of the other posters’ questions. I have a child who still struggles after two years with oral narrations. My question would be about passage length. If we have a child who is supposed to be reading 10 pages but can’t keep up with that much information to narrate, how do we handle narration? 


    What to do if the child cannot give a narration after a completed lesson? Even after gentle prompts.

    Should the response to this situation vary with the age of the child or does it solely depend on the reason behind not being able to narrate the lesson?

    Looking forward to learning from this blog post!





    How about how much written narration for high school students? That seems to come up frequently too. How many times per week, per subject? How long? How detailed? I’m just thinking of overall assessing our plans to see if we have too much/too little planned and too high/too low expectations for it. If they do a written narration, say, once or twice a week in history, chemistry, government…and they have narrated orally in between; should I be looking for a summary of the whole week’s reading to put it in written form at that point…or should it be “just” a detailed account of today’s reading like the oral ones? I struggle with this one b/c I feel like the kids may need the act of writing and recalling periodically in order to cement the knowledge they’ve gained through the week. I always took notes and the act of writing the notes often made studying almost unnecessary…which brings up another thing…is there a place for taking notes?


    Sonya, given recent threads, examples of specific written narration prompts for older kids would be beneficial. That transition time from tell me all you know to compare and contrast, etc. seems to be a sticking point with many.


    Yes, information addressing high school narrations would be very helpful. How do we come up with narration questions that are more than “tell back what you read”, especially if you have not read the material thoroughly yourself?  Instead of having a separate writing course, I’ve always wanted to study a certain form of writing and then apply it to the daily narrations for that week, but I’m not sure how to work that out practically. 


    This is going to be great to read posts compiling so mnay of these detailed questions that can make narration beneficial and rich, rather than stale.

    I would like to add (sorry, I know there is a lot here)…..But when I do the history reading, let’s say: I have a 6th, 4th, and 3rd grader and sometimes it’s a little tricky to make sure the first child doesn’t narrate everything. I know it’s been recommended to start witht he youngest, then work your way up, but by the time the 2 narrate, my oldest has been sitting there for 10minutes before she has anything to add (if there is anything left).

    I do wonder (and haven’t expereinced yet) with the above question, when a mother hasn’t read the chapter or topic… to engage and comment on the narration. I will be transitioning my soon to be 7th grader more independently, and dont’ remember much from my own school years. (I am thankful to be getting an education now!) So oftentimes I feel less than adequate in my dd progressing in depth of knowledge (past myself).

    Thank you,

    Thank you!

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