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Monday, July 28, 2014

N is for Narration {Blogging through the Alphabet}


~ the act of telling back what has been read; the act or process of telling a story or describing what happens

This isn't a new topic on my blog, but it hasn't been really talked about as much as perhaps it should. Narration is essential to the way that we do 'school'. Essential is not too strong a word either. 

What is narration? It is what people, especially children, do all the time! When there is something that really catches the attention in an article, a blog post, or even on television or the internet, who doesn't turn to another person and recap the bit of information. Sometimes people even talk to themselves about what it was that caught them so. That is narration.

It is showing what is known. There is a quote that Charlotte Mason uses in her books: "the mind can know nothing but what it can produce in the form of an answer to a question put by the mind to itself" (copied from AO). Narration is the way of answering those questions put to the mind by the mind. It is not simply memorizing and regurgitation.

You cannot narrate what you do not know.

In a Charlotte Mason school, narration is required of every subject. That's a lot of talking, you might think. But really narrations are not limited to talking, or writing. Recently at a Charlotte Mason gathering, there were at least three forms of narration: silent narration, drawn narration, and verbal narration. There were probably more. 

The point is that if one can retell, in any of many different forms, what they have assimilated, it is possible to gauge their understanding; what they know.

Here are a few links to help with understanding what narration is:
The Art of Narrating (Charlotte Mason herself!)
Narration Discussion (Ambleside Online)
Some Thoughts on Narration (Ambleside Online)
Narration for the Newbie (Carroll Smith of Charlotte Mason Institute, formerly ChildLight USA)

Narration sounds very simple. Before judging the simplicity as an indicator of its worth, try it for yourself. Read a passage from a book (a textbook isn't recommended for this exercise but it can be done), once, then close the book and either tell someone what it was that you read, or write it down. 

Not so simple, is it? Narration requires the complete attention of the reader. It requires one to focus, knowing there will be a narration afterward, and only one reading is granted. But that's another topic, perhaps, for another post.

After attending the Charlotte Mason gathering in Peoria, IL, this past week, I've found a renewed focus on our 'school'. It is for the children's sake that we use Charlotte Mason's philosophy and methods. It is for their lives, now and to come. This is my N is for...entry in the Blogging through the Alphabet. You can see others' entries at Ben and Me or search abcblogging. 


  1. Do you have any tips to help improve my son's narration skills? (start with just a few sentences and build, sit in silence until he comes up with something, or give him questions as prompts?)

    1. It depends on ages and skills. Has your son been narrating long? How is the book he's narrating from? Engaging or dry? Too easy, too challenging? Here is the long answer I have:
      If your son is younger and is not used to narrating, start small; even down to just a few sentences to narrate from. Or switch it so that *you* do the narrating. My son loves to do that!
      My kids, who are older, come to me and say, "Can I narrate for...?" and once they get the yes, they are off on their own with no further prompting. I do not generally start their narrations for them. When they, for whatever reason, have a very short narration or I know they have missed something quite big, at the end of the narration, I ask about whatever it is. "What about...?" This usually will tell me if they read well or not because it will usually get them going again.
      If they have a problem even starting, where we are just staring at each other, I will usually read the first sentence to them. There are times when I have to let it go and express that it is obvious they were not attentively reading.


Thank you for stopping by my blog. Please leave a comment, I love them! Have a great day! ~Blossom
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