Narration Problems: The Written Narration is Full of Mistakes

by Jimmie

When my middle schooler does a written narration, it is full of spelling errors, grammatical mistakes, and messy handwriting. What should I do?

Dealing With Mistakes in Narration

Narration means telling back. It is a foundational method of the Charlotte Mason approach to homeschooling. However, as simple as narration is, homeschoolers sometimes face problems with their narrations. This page is one in a series which addresses common narration problems.


My middle schooler is composing written narrations and doing a good job of retelling what he read. But the narrations are filled with errors: misspellings, grammatical errors, and punctuation mistakes. Some of the words are written so messily that I can't even read them. What should I do?


This is a great question because lots of students are good at narrating but not so good at the finer points of English grammar and mechanics, not to mention handwriting and spelling.

First, the meaning of the narration is really the bottom line in the assignment. So be sure to praise your child for his correct and thorough narration

Now, what about the mistakes? There are a few ways to look at this problem. 

It could be that your child is being careless and not doing her work to the best of her ability. On the other hand, writing is a very complex task. She is probably focusing so hard on the facts of the narration and espressing them clearly that she has little attention to spare for the spelling, grammar, and mechanics.

When the narration is filled with mistakes, here are some options:

1.  Have your child proofread and edit the narration, fixing all the mistakes and rewriting a polished, "perfect" copy. 

If you choose this option, be sure to give your child time to work on the edits. Don't assign another narration or composition in the meantime. Proofreading and editing are hard work

2.  Point out select errors for your child to work on. 

Look for reccurring mistakes -- a certain spelling pattern, comma errors, or run-on sentences, for example. Give a mini-lesson on the topic, and have your child fix those select errors, ignoring the others.

Every written narration does not have to be a perfect, finished product. You can allow for some draft-quality narrations.

Help With Proofreading Skills

Daily Paragraph Editing Worksheet
Daily Paragraph Editing Worksheet

Editing Practice For Grades 2-6

Daily Exercises by Evan Moor
Daily Paragraph Editing, Grade 6
Evan Moor Educational Publishers
$23.99  $14.56

One Way to Improve Proofreading Skills

And Teach Grammar & Mechanics

One of the hallmarks of a Charlotte Mason education is short lessons. Quick, mini-lessons are painless and may seem to offer little instructional value. But their power is in their repetition. If those short lessons are consistently implemented over time, the instructional power multiplies into a large foundation of knowledge.

A great example of this is a daily proofreading exercise. I have used these Evan Moor Reproducible Editing books for three years now. You can read my full review at The Curriculum Choice

Each day's editing takes just minutes. But looking for and correcting errors every single day really hones a child's ability to proofread his own written narrations and compositions.

More Narration Problems

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 child narrates a reading passage, he adds his own thoughts, imaginations, or even facts he learned elsewhere. Is this a problem?
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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Guest on 05/30/2011

Great resource. This should also be taught in public schools.

nightbear on 05/30/2011

I sure hope a lot of homeschoolers find your information. It always is so helpful and it sounds like it would really make a difference. I'm not a parent, but I can sure tell what sounds sensible.

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