Stop Interrupting!

Interrupting narrations.  Isn’t it annoying to lose your train of thought when someone interrupts you? It is for your child too.

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Narrations are a cornerstone of a Charlotte Mason education. Rather than workbooks, tests, enrichment exercises, children need to listen and remember as many details, facts or information from the material just read.  Children must pay close attention while they listen to the story so that they can make it their own and express what they remember and understood as they narrate.  Young children begin with oral narrations first, then dictated and finally at about 10 years, children start to write their own narrations themselves. In essence, the narration is the information the child recalls and tells back what he just heard in the reading.  This is a simple, but very critical learning strategy!

But, as most parents know, children don’t always listen attentively, and our parenting habit of reminding, prompting and telling (and nagging) our children about everything can quickly and easily become a bad habit in our homeschooling.

Charlotte Mason

Charlotte Mason says,

Be careful never to interrupt a child who is called upon to ‘tell’ ” (A Philosophy of Education, p. 172).

For some of us, that’s easy. For others, it’s much more difficult.

Some of us love to make narration time more like discussion time, with give and take in a conversation. But don’t get the two confused in your mind: narration is different from discussion.

So, how does an uninterrupted narration work? 

  • Before you begin the read aloud, first introduce the story or recap the previous reading.
  • Give your child a “heads up” to pay close attention to the reading to be able to retell the reading accurately, in detail, once you have completed the section.
  • For children who struggle, begin to read only a paragraph, then a page, then a section and finally a chapter before asking for your child’s narration.  Try it yourself — this is hard stuff!
  • Give your child a chance to collect his thoughts, form his sentences, and then present his ideas as a cohesive whole.
  • Here’s where it may require your super-human strength — sit listening attentively to your child’s narration without . saying . anything.  No questions, suggestions, prompts, reminders.
  • Wait quietly until the end.
  • Remember to keep your face engaged and positive, with no frowns, or sighs.  Smiles, nods and positive facial expressions reacting to your child’s narration are good though.
  • Some children may falter, others may require a starting point.  Others prefer to ramble on or leave out details.  Some children need to see a picture or have a specific theme to narrate.
  • Only when your child is done with his narration, can you encourage additions, elaborations, and discussion.

Here are some of my Narration blog posts ~

Remember that learning to write narrations is a slow and gradual process and may take years of work to hone and mature their skills.  Don’t feel that your child should master this in a year.  Some children take years to develop good narrations, so be positive and be patient … and keep quiet as you listen!

 Blessings and grace, Nadene
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