Answering a Question about Narrations

narration not the only wayIn response to this post on narration, Connie and Juanita both asked questions about narration, and I thought it might be more helpful to answer those questions here.

1. Do you always write what they say? Or sometimes just listen?

I almost never write down their narrations, and you don’t need to, either. Yes, that’s really what I said. Go ahead and read it again. I do not know where this idea of CM stems from, but I do not think it is CM herself. There are some good reasons for writing down an occasional narration, but nobody need take dictation and transcribe every single narration.

Here are some of the reasons:

You live in a state where you are required to keep some sort of portfolio or record of your childrens’ work. Copy the occasional narration and file it as a sample of ‘oral composition.’ You could also do this if you just want a record of how their narrations have improved over time- but you shouldn’t need to do this more than once a month.

You are giving exams Charlotte Mason style. In this case you would transcribe their narrations so you can look at them later and assess how they are doing.

You want to show off for Grandparents or other relatives who do not live nearby and want to see some written work.

Your child wants you to do this.

There are probably a few other reasons that are specific to a particular situation or circumstance, but what I want to make perfectly clear is that you need not feel you must be copying these early oral narrations in order to avoid being a Bad Parent. It’s not required. Seriously. Here’s some more from an older email:

We never take dictation or do copywork from the children’s own writing. The purpose of dictation and copywork is to familiarize them with a model for excellent writing, so these are taken from well-written selections from their reading. The purpose and goal of narrations is different- narrations are for the children to review their reading in their minds, and solidify their learning by telling it back to you. It is not necessary to copy all their narrations.
It’s nice to keep copies of a handful of them to chart progress (and to keep particularly charming ones).

2. When do you start having them write it themselves instead of dictate it to you?

As you can see from answer #1, I never start having them dictate to me.=) I start written narrations when they can handle the mechanics of writing well enough to write narrations without crying. This will vary, but roughly it’s around ten.

However, this is also very important: Written narration NEVER completely replaces oral narration.

For more information on Charlotte Mason, Language Arts, and Narration, see here.

And nobody asked me this one, but here’s the answer to ‘What’s the point of narration?’

Narration is itself a learning process, just as much so as reading the books in the first place.

Try it yourself sometime (this is something Miss Mason suggests).
Read some passage to yourself, and then close the book and tell it
back to yourself. It’s harder than we think. In doing this you
need to review the material in your own mind, order it, organize it, sift it, pull out those things that are most important (at least to you), explain it, and think about it- and this extra thought applied to the material is an important part of learning.

I’ll try to answer other questions (both those you ask and those you do not ask) in other posts.

You may wish to look over some of our other posts on Charlotte Mason and language arts

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