Narration is the “Act of Knowing”
(And a Highly Effective Form of Assessment)
If you can encourage and ultimately enable your child to acquire the habit of paying attention to what you read to them, or to what they read for themselves, you have begun to lay an amazing foundation in creating a true scholar!
How exactly will you develop the habit of attention?
Charlotte Mason called this method: The Act of Knowing. Simply put, she was referring to the process of Narration.
WHAT IS NARRATION?As Ivana Ries – original author of Love2Learn Curriculum – explains, “Narration is assimilating information and RETELLING it.” Anyone would listen closely if they knew they were going to retell what they had heard. Just like when you’ve seen a documentary and tell your friend all about it the next day, you remember it better.
For instance, when you and your child have just finished reading about the planets, you ask him to tell you what stood out for him about them.
THE FRUIT OF NARRATION
The “fruit” of what happens when we encourage our children to acquire the habit of paying attention through the art of Narration, includes:
- When we read to our children, they have to listen. (This may sound a little obvious, but the reality is they are not going to be able to narrate back anything if first and foremost, they don’t listen.)
- They then have to process and synthesise the information they’re taking in, in order to try and make sense of it, in order to be able to narrate back with any kind of intelligence, relevant to their respective age level. (They may well not use the same phrasing and terminology the author of the book you read from uses; but they can nevertheless work their narration to what they understand.)
- Whilst narrating, they need to speak out confidently (not mumble into their chest, whilst looking at the floor). Over time, they will become very comfortable with the sound of their own voice. We all know adults who are petrified of public speaking – this will not be an issue for a child who’s used to hearing the sound of their own voice day after day, month after month and year after year, as they confidently narrate back to their parents/educator
.Whilst narrating, they need to speak out confidently (not mumble into their chest, whilst looking at the floor). Over time, they will become very comfortable with the sound of their own voice. We all know adults who are petrified of public speaking – this will not be an issue for a child who’s used to hearing the sound of their own voice day after day, month after month and year after year, as they confidently narrate back to their parents/educator.
- As opposed to written narration, verbal narration requires a child to learn to think on his feet – immediate processing of knowledge acquired.
- More than this though, they also need to learn to order their thoughts, so that they narrate back in the appropriate sequence or order, as the situation requires. (Small children tend to struggle initially with putting the beginning in the beginning, the middle in the middle and the end at the end. When we read them a story and then – to test their comprehension – ask them to narrate back what they can remember; more often than not, they will speak back the last thing they heard, because this is what they more readily remember. Over time – and with repetition – they will acquire the ability to order the information in the correct sequence.
What are the Benefits of Narration?
The benefits of Narration are like a double-sided coin… on the one side it has benefits for the Student and on the other, benefits for the Parent/Educator.
A. Benefits for the Student:
- Narration provides multiple, daily opportunities for you as the parent to grow the HABIT OF PAYING ATTENTION in your child. Your child is being honed for adulthood and good citizenship. Perfect attention and absolute recollection are an asset to society: in the life of the Church, in employment and in business, and in the nation.
- Children are encouraged to acquire the habit of attention and, in addition to the “Fruit” already listed above, with that comes a more deliberate building of relationship with the material they are covering.
- Narration provides your child with daily opportunities to EXPRESS HIMSELF, orally and in written form, about the discoveries he makes in his studies.
- It introduces your child gently to the values of INTEGRITY AND ACCOUNTABILITY. When he knows that he will have to give account at the end of every lesson about what he has understood, he learns to apply himself to concentrating and remembering.
- It activates THE BRAIN’S CAPACITY FOR RETENTION and RECALL beyond the walls of the schoolroom.
B. Benefits for the Parent/Educator:
- Instead of waiting weeks and/or even months to give your child a test, only to discover at that point in time that what you were covering weeks and/or months before this, they didn’t understand; with Narration you have the chance to daily and immediately identify the “temperature” of understanding in the room and then address this accordingly.
- Narration affords the chance for ongoing and continuous assessment;and with this, you get to know what your children know! You thus do not need a formal test or exam in order to determine this.
- It also opens up numerous avenues to the parent for creative, out-of-the-box ways to help your child learn and remember.