Charlotte Mason and classical homeschoolers rely heavily on narration as an instructional technique. After a reading assignment (either read aloud or read silently) the child retells what he heard or read. But what should a parent do when a child struggles with narration? There are many possible problems that can arise with narration. This article is one of a series of five dealing with various narration problems and how to solve them.
Narration Problems: Narrating is Too Hard
My child can answer comprehension questions without any problem, but she cannot narrate a passage at all. What can I do?
Listening to Teacher in a Traditional Classroom
Dealing With the Basics of Narrating
My child can't seem to narrate! If I ask specific questions about the lesson, he can answer correctly. But when I ask him to retell the lesson, he can't do it. What is wrong?
First of all, don't give up. Just because he is not skilled at narrating now doesn't mean that he can never learn the skill. He can learn to narrate through practice and your instruction.
Narrating is Simple but Not Easy
It's important to keep in mind that narration is simple --just retell what you read or heard. But narration is far from easy. Some people will say that narration is a natural skill that all children have. Don't all children naturally tell stories of what happened to them? The problem is that not all children can tell those stories skillfully. And tellling about your own experiences is vastly different from telling about a living book or reading assignment.
No, narration is quite complex and vastly different from the comprehension questions of traditional schooling.
Narrating versus Comprehension Questions
- Who was Alexander the Great's father?
- What was Alexander the Great's horse called?
- What was different about the horse?
- What happened on the day Alexander was born?
- What kept Alexander from entering India?
- What finally killed Alexander?
Narration is far more challenging than most comprehension questions.
An Explanation of Bloom's Taxonomy
Contrasting Surface with Deep Learning
(Revised Version of 1990s)
According to Bloom's taxonomy of cognitive processes, the top level is the most challenging one - creating-- while the bottom level requires the least mental effort -- remembering.
|creating||design, formulate, write, create|
|evaluating||defend, judge, support, evaluate|
|analyzing||compare, contrast, distinguise, examine, question, criticize|
|applying||choose, demonstrate, sketch, use, write, solve, interpret|
|understanding||classify, discuss, explain, identify, locate, select, paraphrase|
|remembering||define, duplicate, list, memorize, recall, repeat, reproduce, state|
Printable Blooms Taxonomy Charts
Bloom's Taxonomy Printable Chart (PDF)
The six levels of thinking with descriptions and a long list of verbs for each.
Staircase Bloom's Taxonomy
A very attractive chart with the six levels of thinking plus verbs that fit each one.
Higher Order Thinking
Tools to Help You Teach
|Reading Response Activities With Grap...|
Scholastic Teaching Resources (Teaching
|Building Thinking Skills- Critical Th...|
The Critical Thinking Company
|Reading Detective A1: Using Higher-Or...|
Critical Thinking Books & Software
No Wonder Narration is Hard
To narrate well, you must remember, understand, apply, and analyze (the bottom four thinking levels). A narration can go beyond the text and move on to evaluating. If the narration is written, then the highest level is used -- creating.
It is a far more complex task than merely answering questions on a workshet or at the end of a chapter.
So if your child is new to narration and finds it difficult, do not be discouraged.
Narration is quite challenging. But with help and practice, he can improve.
So Narration is Hard. How Can I Make it Easier?
Break Down the Reading
Start with shorter sections to narrate. Read a single paragraph and ask your child to narrate that. Then slowly graduate to narrating passages of multiple paragraphs. Finally move up to longer selections and entire chapters. This transition can take months to make. Don't rush it.
Use Narration Prompts
You can make narration feel more like familiar worksheets and comprehension questions by using narration prompts. Encourage your child to go beyond short answers and elaborate with all he knows about the topic. The prompt is just to get him started.
Note taking can help with narrations. Consider graphic organizers, sketching, outlining. Whether listening or reading silently, encourage your child to make notes about what he hears. Then he can reference those notes as he gives the narration.
Practice Makes Perfect
Like anything, repeated practice improves performance. Be sure to give your child opportunities to narrate every day. Praise his efforts and progress. Be gentle with criticism as you encourage him to continue to improve.
Reading Comprehension Cubes
Roll the Die and Answer the Question
|Reading Comprehension Cubes|