Sunday, February 15, 2009

Help! My Child Doesn't Like to Narrate

Occasionally, you may have a child who doesn't seem to enjoy oral narration. I have noticed that my children enjoyed narrating the most when they had siblings narrating beside them. They liked to take turns and play narrating games together. If your child must narrate alone here are some ideas that may make it more enjoyable:

Take turns narrating with her. You could even use the red and blue bead game with her. One bead for you and one for her. Kids love to correct the parent.

Keep the narration passages short. Don't make her narrate a whole chapter, but just a particular event. Remember, you want your child to feel successful, not frustrated.

Don't make her narrate orally too often-Twice a day is plenty. Every book doesn't need a narration. Choose what you feel to be the most important books or passages you want your children to remember.(History and Science are the most important in our home) Miss Mason did not have her children narrate from every book and passage, but the kids had to be ready to narrate because they never knew when they might be called upon to narrate.

Help her get started by reading the first line from the passage to jog her memory. Write some proper nouns on the board and any difficult/new vocabulary.

Use the narration jar so she has a variety of narration choices.

Don't interrupt her and if you must critique her at the end, make sure you give her just as much and more positive input.

Remember to keep it short, light and enjoyable.

If she still balks, smile and tell her to narrate. : )

More on the value and art of NARRATION.

one step at a time...


  1. sarah15.2.09

    Good advice! Alas none of it has worked for my child over the years. I tried everything to no avail. I think there comes a point when one has to admit a certain method of learning is not going to work for a particular child, either because of their unique learning style or some other issues, and find a suitable alternative. It's a shame because narration is so valuable.

  2. I find my daughter loves the oral narrations, but written ones [new this year] are tougher. She especially doesn't like that I won't tell her in advance which three reading she must write up that week! Happily, as we go along they are a little better written and I hear a tad less complaining! :)

  3. Linda, I have a 2nd grade son and we've just finished Aesop. He narrates well as far as content goes, but his language leaves a lot to be desired. Lot's of 'um' and 'like'. How can I help him in his language as he narrates?

    Also, he sometimes narrates (orally) as if he's running through a list of items. How can I help him "compose" his narrations a bit more, or can I?

    And lastly, is there any particular book that you would recommend he narrates after Aesop?

    Thank you for all your valuable experience and advice.


  4. I'm finding that narration is a fascinating process . . . my eldest hates narrating so badly that she literally throws herself on the floor in agony, but my next 3 love narrating so much that they will simply keep talking unless I say, "Thank you. You've done a good job, and you NEED to stop so someone else can have a turn."

  5. Sarah, I'm a purist in the area of Narration. I am convinced that it is the best way for a child to learn, not only through my own experiences, but through many others, even those with difficult children. I do not believe there is a better alternative. My first reaction to those who say narration doesn't work with their child is to look in the area of habit training. Habit training is so foundational to a CM education. Narration simply WILL NOT WORK without it. Some children just don't want to do the work of forming their thoughts in order and coherently; filling in the blanks is MUCH EASIER. The body and brain tend towards laziness so we,as parents are trying to train our children to enjoy the work of learning. I had an interesting interview with my older daughters about narration yesterday. I hope to post it soon. You may find it helpful to view narration from the viewpoint of a CM child always schooled this way and what she thinks of narration now that she is near graduation. *One of my girls did not enjoy narration.


  6. ellee,
    After the narration, I suggest you correct his ums, etc... Record his narration and let him listen to himself. This helped my children notice when they were using poor sentences. It made them want to improve immediately.

    Show him how to narrate a short passage by narrating it yourself first and let him listen. He'll eventually get the hang of it, just keep gently correcting. I tell my children when they are first narrating to try to sound like the author. This helps them have a more tangible goal. Later, when they got more comfortable, they developed their own narration 'style.'

    I am in the middle of first year with my son. He narrates Aesop, Bible passages, fairytales and usually Just So Stories. Occasionally, he narrates part of a passage from This Country of Ours if I think it is a good passage for narration. He draws stick figure narrations for Shakespeare and explains them aloud.