Saturday, May 28, 2011

Narration

When you think back to school, do you remember the methods used to test your grasp of the information passed on to you? My memories are of tests with lots of multiple choice, True/False, fill-in-the-blank, and Q and A. My mind was pretty good at coming up with pneumonic devices to remember answers for a test. But it also knew that it would quickly forget the info once the test was over. I used to think I was really good at "school". But since I've started homeschooling, I suspicion I was actually a lazy learner. Many devices were in place to help me get good grades, but I did not learn (not during "school time" anyway) for the joy of it. Not for the life enrichment knowledge can bring.

Narration is a key Charlotte Mason element that helps a person cement information in the brain and make connections. A great introductory article can be read here. I wish I had loads of wisdom to share on this subject, but I feel sadly lacking in this area of home education. Elizabeth has gotten much better at narrating, especially since her brother began narration this year, and she enjoys a little competition. Jonathan is much better at retelling a story we've just read as opposed to a poem or Bible passage. Quite expected at his age though.

I really should change things up a bit: ask for a drawing or skit or something instead of the same ole' "Tell me what we just read about". Elizabeth did recently choose to do a simple Keynote presentation on a book she just finished. It was 4 slides long. Not as detailed as I would like, but narration isn't about what I want her to remember. It's about connections she made with the material. Some of her best "retellings" are when she'll stop me during a reading and make a comment which leads to an impromptu discussion. Love that. At any rate, our narrating is not perfect. But the knowledge is there for life. Not a temporary flitting to pass the test.



8 comments:

plantinglittleseeds said...

That is so true about test taking! I remember memorizing the info right before a test and it was quickly gone after. My children have been doing narrations for only 2 years now, and they have DRAMATICALLY improved from the beginning! It definitely takes practice. Thanks for the post!

Sarah said...

your children sound delightful the way you describe them. I agree it is about how they connected with the material that is the most important point of narration. My boys have done some creative narrations with simple puppets and a makeshift cardbaord box puppet theater. Their eyes light up and shine as it is being performed. Takes some time, but like the discussions you are having with little E. it is one of the wonderful reasons we are educating them at home so we can have these precious times with them. Thanks for sharing!

Traci's Teaching Times said...

I think Sarah about said everything I was thinking. The connections with the material, that's wat we want them to talk about, demonstrate, or how ever they present it back to us. We just need to see what they did retain and what they present back to us we can pretty much say that's what they grasped.

KayPelham said...

"narration isn't about what I want her to remember. It's about connections she made with the material." This is definitely true and we do them a disservice if we try to push our way on them. I think this idea of "narration" is something they we need to revisit from time to time to make sure we haven't gone off track. It is an amazingly wonderful "tool" and we sure don't want to waste the opportunity for our kids to have a very different experience than our learn for the test school years. I'm still struggling to pay attention and retain details and make connections at my late age. Imagine if we had been trained like this!

Grace'n'Chaos said...

First, we are enjoying Delightful Reading so much with my 6yr old son. Second, I enjoyed this post. I have found that my one artisitic kid who really enjoys drawing I allow her narrations to take this form on many an occasion, the other (older) loves to write so she does. During conversations you can see how they've made the material their own and connected with it. I don't require narrations from my 6yr old but I did catch him doing a story board of a picture book we had just read. I think his on his way too :)

beckyboop said...

Oh, I was very good at regurgitating information for exams in school as well. What a sad way to learn! I am so glad we all have a chance to do more, and allow our kids to really learn in such a delightful and authentic way.

Definitely do switch up the narration methods. Drawing and skits can be SO much fun!

phillipsgirl said...

Thank you for all your comments! I've enjoyed this blog carnival so much. It's encouraging to read what others are doing in trying to do CM with their family. I get overwhelmed sometimes, but then I see that others are also going through the same thing. It's encouraging.

Penney Douglas said...

I too love those discussions that happen during a reading. You know that learning went deeper than if they had just listened without expressing what they were thinking. Sometimes the others get impatient to continue reading because they want to hear the rest of the story, but I try to keep encouraging the questions and discussion.