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Narration…and Some other Stuff

13 Nov

Ever since my son was about 3, I have encouraged narration. I didn’t know what it was called at the time, but every evening I’d ask him: ‘tell me about your day.’ And he’d recreate his day, usually chronologically. I was amazed at the things he could remember, and his perspective on certain happenings was interesting and revealing.

Stiggy’s always ‘telling’ us things. He loves to talk about something that happened, something someone said, what Jeremy Clarkson said about the new Mercedes coming out, or recount some event that took place in America 2 years ago.

I’m not going to go into all the benefits of narration, because some of my readers will be bored by it, some of my readers already know about it, and for those who would like to know more about it, you can check my links on the side bar. Suffice it to say, that Charlotte Mason said (something to the effect) that a child cannot own the information unless he has reproduced it. And as Karen Andreola said, it’s a way of digesting information. Workbooks, fill-in-the-blanks, true and false, multiple choice…these forms of assessment work to prove what a child does not know, and very little of what he does know. Narration is a chance for him to show all that he knows, without prompts, without lucky guesses. It relieves the child of the there’s-only-one-right-answer pressure, which is merely a regurgitation of the information presented. With narration, a child has a chance to work his opinions and views into his telling. With narration, it is not cram, test, forget, which is the popular method of schools.

Ok, so I did go on a bit about it. But hey, it’s my blog and I think narration’s great. 🙂 So great, in fact, that I’ve used it to replace the comprehension questions in my son’s Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons lessons. I don’t ask the questions; I ask him to tell me what he remembers about what he’s just read. This has proved to be a great idea. Every time I asked him one of the questions, he’d say, ‘I don’t know.’ I’d try to prod his memory. Nothing. But when I asked him to tell me what he remembers, he was able to tell me, quite accurately, a little summary of what he’d read.

We’ve also made a narration cube. Our cube has things like ‘tell me about your day…tell me everything you know about…describe our…’ We do this most nights before our bedtime story. He asks to do this, and when I say we’ll do just one, it turns into 3.

In other news, I’ve made some big changes. I think I’ve been trying to work in too much structure. All these fun activities just started to feel, as the units did, contrived, like one more thing to do in a day, one more box to tick. So, when doing lesson plans yesterday, I did not print out one of my lesson plans sheets. I got a piece of notebook paper, wrote out the reading lessons we would be doing (with no days attached to them), and the corresponding workbook pages (MCP Phonics Workbooks are great; I bend my no-workbook-rule for them, plus Stiggy loves them…and I bought them before I went off workbooks). This small bit of structure in our day we like, but by the end of it, Stiggy’s had enough. As for the rest of it, I made a list of some activities I’d like to do, and a few reminders for the week. And that was it. I don’t want to bake because it says we have to on Thursday, in order to expose Stiggy to fractions and baking skills. I want to bake because we want to. I don’t want to make a cheerio necklace because it is a prewriting activity to strengthen his manual dexterity; we’ll do it because it sounds fun, and gives us an excuse to eat cheerios. And all this planning and coordinating is eating into our time to actually do the stuff…not to mention the little bit of free time I do have.

Oh my, if I keep this up, we’ll be unschoolers very soon.

So, what else did we do this week? Well, I still wasn’t feeling well, so most of my planned stuff got left by the wayside. We did a page from Handwriting without Tears (which he loves, and we will continue to do), we did some activities from this site, read poetry, tons of reading aloud (at night we’re reading The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane), played some games, did this art activity, a few other little things, and PE.

Looking forward to our more relaxed week next week.

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