Narration Problems: The Narration Includes Extra Information

by Jimmie

When my child narrates a reading passage, he adds his own thoughts, imaginations, or even facts he learned elsewhere. Is this a problem?

Lots of homeschool families rely on narration as an instructional strategy. It is simple and requires no extra materials to implement. You simply have your child retell what he just read or heard in his lesson. Although narration is simple, it can have trouble spots such as the problem here.

Dealing With Extraneous Details in Narration

I was just thinking


My child can narrate, but when she does she adds in details she did not read in her text. These facts are true; they come from television documentaries, other books, or real life experiences. But they were not in the reading assignment I asked her to narrate. Is this a problem?


Strictly speaking, a narration is telling back. So extra details don't belong in a strict narration.

If the narration is mostly facts outside of the reading assignment, there is a problem. Why did the reading assignment not get narrated? Was it a lack of attention? Was it a lack of understanding? The reading assignment itself should be narrated.

If the narration includes a retelling of the material but also adds in other facts, this is a much easier problem to deal with.

Although a strict narration includes only a retelling, we want our children to make connections to prior learning and even to draw their own conclusions based on what they read. So it would be a shame to discourage such thinking processes. 

Instead, help your child identify where the strict narration ends and her own details begin.

Verbal Narrations

If the narration is verbal, it is easy enough to add some qualifiers such as

  • "This wasn't in the reading, but I remember that..."
  • "The book left out ...."
  • "I remember from our trip last year that..."

Remind your child that after he has narrated his reading assignment, he is welcome to continue sharing extra tidbits he remembers from other sources and to express his own thoughts on the topic of study. You certainly don't want to shut down a thinking child! 

Written Narrations

In a written narration, it is generally okay to add extra information as long as it is all accurate. The written narration becomes a report that is based on many sources of information, one of which was the day's reading assignment.


Narration Problems

What is your most common one?

More Narration Links

Narration Helps
This page is devoted to narration -- what it is, questions to ask to begin narrations, creative narration ideas, narration reminders, and more.

Timelines for Narration
Timelines make a great format for structuring your narrations.

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More Narration Problems And Tips for Solving Them

All the Articles in This Series
My child will briefly narrate a passage but he leaves out all the main ideas. He doesn't seem to recognize what is important. What should I do?
My child can narrate, but she mixes in some errors with the facts. How can I help her?
When my middle schooler does a written narration, it is full of spelling errors, grammatical mistakes, and messy handwriting. What should I do?
My child can answer comprehension questions without any problem, but she cannot narrate a passage at all. What can I do?
Updated: 02/27/2012, Jimmie
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Stazjia on 06/01/2011

An interesting teaching method.

Spook on 06/01/2011

Beautifully presented, but my Mother whilst doing correspondence before going to Junior school, was no great shakes as a teacher. Her Irish temper prevented her from having the patience for it. So I take my hat off to mothers who can home-school their children.

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