Many homeschool families make narrations a part of their curriculum. With a narration, a child retells in his own words what he has read, recalling as many details as he can. Narrations replace comprehension questions and workbook pages. You can read about many benefits of narrations at A Charlotte Mason Education. Here is one I’ve never read anywhere else: preparation for union with God.
Beyond teaching to the test
We want our children to become intimate with the great works of western civilization, especially the spiritual classics. Comprehension questions and worksheets too often focus on isolated facts. We don’t want children to know facts about Narnia, for example. We want them to yearn to go there. The young heroes and heroines should become their friends, not just remain characters they can describe.
Lessons should reach beyond children’s minds to their hearts and imaginations.
Open your mind and heart
My very first blog post was about the need to be open. We cannot be holy unless we are open to God. In fact, I am more and more convinced that openness is the real key to holiness. Likewise, we cannot learn, if we shut our hearts to learning.
Narrations require attentive listening. They require a child to receive a lesson, make it his own, then offer it back. Do you see the parallel with the spiritual life? We open our hearts to receive gifts from God, embrace them fully, then offer them back to Him.
You can use the Eucharist to show your child how this works. God gives us wheat and grapes. We use them to make bread and wine. Then we offer them back to God, who makes them into His own Body and Blood. The bakers and wine makers make a real, concrete contribution to the sacrament. The rest of us offer our gifts through our tithing.
Narrations are mini-meditations
Narrations also reflect the pattern of Christian meditation. We listen to or read Sacred Scripture, we enter into it with our imagination, then we offer it back to God with our praises, pleas for help, and resolutions. God engages us in conversation, just as the teacher/parent engages her students. We should change and grow through the encounter.
Be sure to do narrations from the Bible often, encouraging your children to narrate the stories prayerfully. Discuss the main idea of the story. What is God calling us to be through the passage? How can we answer Him?
Narrations help our children to digest the food we offer them. Ideally, they help shape our children’s character. You can do that with traditional teaching methods as well, but the task is more difficult.
This is so much better than quizzes and workbook pages that assess comprehension. It probably would not be practical in a typical classroom, but for home schools, because of limited class size, I imagine it would work well.
I especially like the mini-meditation concept.
It could work in a school setting if you don’t expect most narrations to be oral. I started having D write his narrations last year when he turned 10. You can also do narrations as art work. The key is to process what you hear and show what you learned. My boys often want to illustrate stories we read without any prompting from me. They don’t know they’re narrating, or they probably wouldn’t enjoy it as much!
i am adding our writer’s publications to the ACWB sidebar and adding your intro with a link back to here. I hope that is fine with you. If not. I will remove it
Thanks, Melanie. That sounds great to me. I hope you got the other problems ironed out. Sorry I haven’t been much of a help this week. First week of school and flag football.
all is well