Topic | Taking notes


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    Hello. This is our first year with SCM and I was wondering when the child narrates the story can they take notes? I think that we are getting overwhelmed with all the info especially in history that I have them take notes because they think they will forget it. Then my first grader can’t keep up with the fourth grader and now the third grader is asking about spelling and now I don’t know where I am in the story. I think that I am making it harder then it has to be..


    Hi! I can see where taking notes might end up being a distraction.

    Maybe you could stop mid-reading and jot down a key word every page of reading or every few paragraphs, allowing the kids to see you do this. Then they can look over your list as they narrate.

    Also, I decided to stretch the history reading over our 5 day homeschool week so we do a more brief reading and narration everyday. In my experience the kids (and I) would forget what we read by the next history day, if we only had a lengthy history reading once per week.

    We started with SCM (and actually, narration all together) last year. It was a little awkward to find our footing with it at first, but narrations have improved greatly after deciding to stick with it and let time and practice take their course.

    I hope this is helpful,



    Two thoughts:

    1. I let my kids take notes (and actually encourage it from about 5th grade on) only for their written narrations, once they are old enough for those, but they do it after we’re finished reading. They take the book on their own and jot down anything they want to remember, then they can refer to those notes as they write.

    2. For oral narrations, especially for younger kids, you could think about making the passage you read much shorter. In first grade, you could read as little as two paragraphs and then ask for a narration. Over time you can increase the length. But they don’t necessarily need to narrate from very long passages. Even in 4th grade or so, I would stick with 6-8 paragraphs if needed. Eventually, they’ll be able to do it from a whole history reading.


    If you have a whiteboard (or just a piece of paper works) you can write the names of people, places, important info on the board before you read so the kids can refer to it when they narrate.  If you have the narration notecards from SCM, there is a list like that on the back of each card.


    Another thought: Read only a short amount before asking for a narration.  This is a skill that children build over time so a first grade child may need to narrate after only a paragraph or so while an older child could listen to a few paragraphs before narrating. And gradually you lengthen the reading before asking for a narration.  If the first grader is having a tough time narrating history you could have that child narrate with a different book but still listen to the sibling’s history narration.

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