Thursday, May 3, 2012

Early Grammar Stage Focus - Oral Narration

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This is part two of my series based on the article 10 Things To Do With Your Child Before Age 10.  To learn more about what I am doing, read my first post on Reading and Writing

You can get this "10 things..." article plus SO much more information in the book Teaching the Trivium from the good people at Trivium Pursuit.

This week's focus is on Oral Narration.

The article starts by explaining that Charlotte Mason was the one who developed narration as a method of teaching.  If you are not familiar with Charlotte Mason and her style of teaching, you should look into it!  She has a lot of good ideas, many of which are shared with Classical education (narration being one, also copywork and studying history chronologically).

If you have never heard of narration, it is simply the act of telling back a story.  You read a story (or part of a story) to your child, then he tells it back to you in his own words.  It sounds simple, but it is harder than you think!  Unless you have been trained to really listen and comprehend, we do not naturally have these skills.  Please read the article mentioned above to learn more about this great tool!

Narration is something that I have been incorporating into school this year for my 3 year old.  Of course his skills are not that great, because he is just beginning to train his brain to have the stamina needed to really listen.  I usually will read a page or so in our read-aloud or a story in Among the Forest People, and then ask him to tell me what the story was about.  At this point I'm usually happy with him just being able to tell me the main character and maybe one thing that happened.

The article says it is good to start narration at an early age, but it says you may have to prompt the child with questions to get them thinking.  This is something I did not do, because I thought it would take away from the point of narration (being able to to recall the information on your own), but the article correctly points out that the child is just developing the skills needed to do narrate at this point.  That was a good reminder for me!  A goal for me is going to be to remember to ask for narration after shorter passages and to prompt with specific questions (not just a general "What did I just read to you?")

The article says that narration serves three functions.  Comprehension is the first is the most obvious.  Did your child understand what you just read to them? The second function is sharpening your child's mental capacities.  And third is teaching your child to write.  I thought this last one was interesting.  Essentially you are teaching your child to tell you a story.  They said that learning that paired with copywork (the physical act of writing), learned by age 10, will give your child the tools they need to be a creative writer.

I had never considered narration as a precursor to writing, but I am going to try to keep that in the forefront of my mind.  My goal related to this will be to help Trevor begin to tell back his narration in more of a story format.  I will have to model this for him and then ask question to prompt him in answering this way.

Goals to work on:

  1. Ask for narration after smaller chunks of reading.
  2. Ask questions to prompt narration (remember that we are training!)
  3. Model narration as storytelling.

See how we did on these goals in my follow up post, Oral Narration Re-Visited.

This post is a part of the following series:

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  1. I think that children can practice this art even before they can write well. It is such a good practice because speaking is such an important skill and is often overlooked. Thanks for sharing your resources and ideas. I am visiting from Raising Mighty Arrows. New follower! I hope to see you over at True Aim!

  2. I didn't realize the importance of narration when my oldest children were young. I wish I had. It took a long time to train them to listen. Now, with my second wave starting, so to speak, I feel I'm much more prepared. Thank you for your post, and for sharing the article with us!

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience! I'm so glad to hear that you have personally seen the benefit of it (and starting it early!)

  3. My kids who are 7 and 10 are really great at narration. I get them to retell stories to Dad that we've read together or stories that they're reading on their own to me. I also model narration by telling them about the stories I'm reading too. I figure it's good for them to see that I enjoy reading too and that I like to share what I've read with them!

    That's great that you're starting so young with your little one! I started reading novels with my daughter when she was 4 (my son was 2 and only listened half the time). Every time we'd start reading the novel I had my daughter re-cap what we'd read last time. Beverly Cleary is one of my favourite authors for read alouds!

    1. I sounds like you and your kids are doing a great job! Good idea, about modeling narration to them.

      It sounds like you did very similar to what we are doing. I started that with my son at age 3 and he LOVES listening to me read big chapter books now. My daughter is 3 now and she is still learning to enjoy them, but she is definitely getting better!

      I do often forget to ask for narration, so it's really good for me to read things like this to be reminded from time to time =)


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