Written vs. Oral – Narrations, Exams, Styles, Life – What\'s ok?

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  • Claire

    I’ve shared some written narrations here that my son has done this year.  They’re weak.  I didn’t get that feedback here (although I would have liked to because this is a larger sampling of the “norm”) but a good friend was honest with me when I showed her.  I’m seeing this again in our written semester exams.  If you speak with him after a reading/lesson, it is a very enjoyable experience.  His vocabulary is strong, he’s articulate, he knows what he’s read or heard, he offers more depth or makes connections without prompting.  If you read his narration of the same reading or lesson you would think he was much younger than he is or if you knew his age you would think he struggled academically.

    I’m at a loss.  Do you think some children just naturally have strong inclinations toward being more verbal?  I tend to think so.  However, it worries me since a lot of the evaluations and communications he will need to do in college, jobs and relationships will be written.

    He started out hating to write.  Physically it was hard and his fine motor skills were not up to pare.  We beat that obstacle by writing and writing and writing … small things, short things, lots and lots of things until we built up his skills.  Now, I’m not sure how to proceed to the strengthen a weak written communicator.  I find myself saying “write like you speak!” but that has hardly been effective.  I was uber careful not to squash his new found “love” of writing too.

    Does anyone have some specific ideas or suggestions?  I’m on a term break after this week and I’d like to start up the new term with a concrete plan to move him forward and close the gap between his oral skills and his written ones.

    This is kind of a separate question … But I noticed in the shared narrations on the forum that children tended to have wildly varying styles of narration.  Lindsey and Tristan both had narrations that looked similar.  Am I not doing a good job because mine didn’t look the same?  I am under the impression that writing style is personal.  Some children might be very literal, some may add a lot more of their own feelings and emotions, some may be succinct while others might be more descriptive.  Isn’t all of that ok?  I only ask because I see that friends and others tend to evaluate children’s writing, in particular, on the way it compares to the hamburger writing or the schoolish writing methods/standards.  Aren’t we breaking that mold as homeschoolers and understanding that it’s kind of a heavily orchestrated model in the first place?

    Out of the context of classmates I find *knowing* if my children are doing well very difficult.  Anyone else feel that way?  Lindsey’s got the confidence we all need in this area!  Lol.  I made this little bookmark rubric from the last go around of this discussion and it’s hysterical/sad … because I seem to be able to see in their work any number of things!  I’m also one of those people who reads about a disease and immediately develops symptoms identical to it.

    I’m off to read the little ebook SCM sent out 🙂


    I just went back and found some of the narrations that you posted. I think your son’s narrations look very age and gender appropriate. They are concise, well organized and understandable. Not all of us were born to be eloquent writers, your son’s writing is clear and communicates just fine, that’s the important part. I think his narrations look very similar to my own 10 almost 11 year old son’s work. There is still plenty of time for improvement.



    Oh, that’s good to hear.  I wish you’d posted to those original narration posts lol.  😉

    What do you think of this GAP I am seeing (or hearing) between oral and written responses?  I’m thinking there must be some fun, interesting ways to help him to write things the way he would say them and maybe lessen that gap a bit.

    If I find/figure out anything over the break I’ll post it here in case it’s of some use to someone else.


    I think improvement just comes with time and improving the mechanics– like spelling. Give one single goal to work on at a time. Currently, my son is working on interesting opening scentences. The post on sharing written narrations was started by me, so if you want to see an example of my son’s work from a few months ago his is toward the beginning. Here are a few recent current events narrations. I think he has improved a lot in a few months.

    “Can you use glasses yo communicate? Well, Steven Hawkin can. Intel made him some glasses that inturprat his jaw movements to type. The computer program will finish words for him.”

    “The howling wind, bitingly cold, lashes at the treckers faces during the blisard on Tuesday the 18th of October. Autorities are rescuing people from the Himalayas in Nepal. The Himalays are 17,769 feet above sea level. Using helcopters, 385 people have been rescued but 43 were found dead.”

    We still have spelling mistakes, but he is improving. We have a list of the 200 most common words and right now that is all he is responsible for getting spelled correctly. We practice 15 words from the list every day and just keep rotating through it over and over and over. It workes though, he knows those 200 words (which make up something like 75% of the words we use). After Christmas we may add a few more. I think once you get to the most common 300 word that makes up something like 90% of the words we use. I figure if 90% of his writing is correct that’s pretty good!

    I think our next step will be to work on conclusions. It a slow process- one step at a time. – “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, right?

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