Thursday, October 18, 2012

Oral Narration Re-Visited

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This past summer I wrote a series called Early Grammar Stage Focus.  In it, I took a close look at the article 10 Things To Do With Your Child Before Age 10  from Trivium Pursuit and challenged myself to do better in the areas that they highlight.  It is been a few months, and school is in full swing, so I want to check back in and see how I have done in each of the areas.  Each week I will re-visit one of the 10 topics, so come back next week for more!

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.

Last week we talked about Reading and Writing again, and this week we will re-visit Oral Narration.  I won't go into detail about what the article says on this issue (you can read my full thoughts in my first post on Oral Narration), but basically it is having your child tell back to you what you have just read them. 

Last time I was just introducing this concept to my 3 year old son.  His skills were pretty weak, but that was to be expected =)  From reading the 10-things...article, I realized that I needed to approach this more as training than just expecting him to catch on.  I had three goals for myself last time.  I'll share them again here, and then tell how we have been doing for each one...


  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.

My first goal was to train the skill of oral narration by having my son (now four years old) narrate after only one or two paragraphs.  This was something easy to change.  I realized that I was overwhelming him by expecting him to narrate after an entire story.  Having him summarize a paragraph or two at a time was much more manageable for him.  After a little while of practicing that, he can now do pretty well at narrating a few pages of a story.  This will typically be a history reading, or short chapter in a read-aloud book.

My second goal was to remember to ask him questions to prompt his narration.  This was another easy change.  After I read the section to be narrated I will start him off by saying "What happened in this story?  One day there was a...." or something like that.  Then after he says something about the beginning of the story I would prompt again saying something like, "And then he went to..." and continue like that until the end.  This has proved to work very well!

Last, I wanted to model narration as storytelling.  This was a new idea to me, but it made sense!  Telling a story back is the first step to being able to tell a story (well) yourself.  I accomplished this by using the questions that I did in the above goal.  Also, sometimes if he is struggling with narrating a particular passage, I will do it for him, showing him an example of how it should sound.  When I do this, I try to tell it like a story.  I think this helps him learn the basic flow of a story, "One day....then....later on...finally."

Do you have your children narrate stories back to you?  It's a difficult task (have you ever tried it yourself?!?) but I think it is well worth it!

This post is a part of the following series:

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  1. This is an important skill, and harder than it would seem. Very important for development.

    1. I know, it seems like it should be so simple, right? Thanks for the comment!

  2. Narration is something totally neglected in schools. It is So important. I always ask questions after a story and even during the story to emphasize important points. Hopefully I can implement this more into my teaching style next year. Thanks for sharing at Mom's Library!

    1. Yes! I have found that it can be incorporated into really anything that you are reading to your children. We are definitely still working on it, and I'm guessing that we will keep working on it indefinitely =)


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