Hello friends, I’m wondering if you can help me figure out how to flesh out my 8-year-old son’s narrations.
I have him faithfully “tell back” after each reading and before a new reading, but his responses are usually something like, “A person went to a place and fought a bad guy. He won.” I remind him to use names and even write down or say names for reference to help him out since he’s more of a visual learner. Frequently if I remind him he can add in the names, but if I want more details I have to ask specific questions and really pull them out. I feel like I end up being a human fill-in-the blank quiz. He hates drawing or other creative narration options because they take more time and he wants to hurry up and get done so he can do his own thing. The crazy thing is that he talks non-stop about everything else in the world until I literally have to ask him to be quiet, but with narrations he says that books have too many words and just wants to stick to the “important facts.”
He also never explains what he’s talking about and this is true even in normal conversation. He’ll just jump in with some random detail about a game or an idea without any explanation of what he’s referring to. My husband and I often have him (and his younger brother) start over with his stories during dinner table discussion because he has forgotten to give any context whatsoever. Is this normal for his age and what can I do to help him be more descriptive?totheskydearParticipant
My 6-year-old does the second one you mention. We’ll be talking about something and he’ll come in with something completely unrelated and out-there. I think it’s normal and a sign of a very active mind deep in thought. 🙂
As for the narration part, narration can be a slow process. My oldest started with very short narrations like you describe but now after several years of doing them, he does a great job and I have to tell him to wrap it up sometimes because they go on for a long time. One thing that helped him was telling him, “Imagine you’re telling this to someone who hasn’t read the book and has no idea what you’re talking about”. I hope that helps!sarah2106Participant
Sounds pretty normal for my kids at that age, so while I know the expectation is there, sometimes does not look like what others are doing. I also find some books are just tough to narrate when young (or even older:) ). I tried doing paragraph by paragraph for some books but that took forever (or it seemed like it 🙂 ) and my kids would glaze over. What I started to do was realize that some books we read just to read (even for history) and others I ask for narrations. If it is a book that I don’t require narrations I do a quick recap before starting the next reading. I have realized that they were listening and often pipe in with what they remembered from the day before to add to my recap. Almost like they needed a day to ponder and then come back to it. I will sometimes ask different narration questions for example when we read about the Suez Canal, a lot of info in the chapter, I asked my 9 year old “what do you think it would be like to have built the canal?” He started telling me about it being dirty and hot and then started adding in little tidbits from the chapter. I don’t worry about specific names or places at this point. I focus more on listening with attention and participating at what ever level they are ready to. I have three kids and all grew in their narration (and all academic skills) at their own pace. I remind myself that is why there is an average, some early and some later. 🙂
My 9 year old still starts in the middle when telling stories to people. I often ask him to pause and start at the beginning so we can understand what he is telling us. He just has so much he wants to tell everyone and thinks everyone was there since his mom and siblings were. He has been improving but sometimes still jumps in right in the middle.Tamara BellModerator
Narration can truly be a slow process. Have you modeled narration? This can help. When you ask him to narrate, try not to have him “tell back”. Be a bit more specific. Sometimes, asking children to tell back what they remember overwhelms them. Pin down a specific area of the story that you’d like him to tell back. We have free narration bookmarks that can help you with narration prompts that are direct but not too pointed. You will find them here: https://simplycharlottemason.com/store/narration-bookmarks/
You’re doing wonderfully!
<p style=”text-align: left;”>I can always count on lots of great advice on this forum! Thank you so much for all of the suggestions. Just knowing that some of what I’m seeing is normal helps a lot.</p>
Sarah, I really like the way you phrased your Suez Canal question. I will look for opportunities to be more creative with my questions (although he’s the kind of kid who just resists things for the sake of it, so we’ll see how it goes). I do sometimes take a turn narrating, and maybe I just need to be patient a little longer for it to click with him. I had forgotten about the bookmarks, so I’ll definitely have to check those out again too.
“He also never explains what he’s talking about and this is true even in normal conversation. He’ll just jump in with some random detail about a game or an idea without any explanation of what he’s referring to. ”
🙂 I have a friend who’s husband does this and she’s like, wait. what? Huh?
The funny thing is that since posting this I’ve started noticing how frequently my (truly very smart) husband does this. Why? LolBeckyParticipant
Lol and my friend’s 9 year old son does it some as well! They are both very smart. They 9 year old is way above is age in many things but learning to read has been hard.
When my boys were this age they shut down when I’d ask for an oral narration but when I’d let them be, sooner or later, like days later, they would rattle off all this stuff they’d learned. It was a beautiful narration!
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