January 12, 2007 @ 3:09 pm | Filed under: Charlotte Mason, Homeschooling, Language Arts
Ha! I knew I was being optimistic when I talked about continuing my narration post "tomorrow." My poor little Bean. Still running a highish fever, now on antibiotics. So no long post today, but a kind reader wrote in with a very good question, which I can answer quickly:
When your children narrate to you and you want to write
it down for them, how do you go about it? My computer with at printer
is busted right now so no typing… They just narrate so quickly I
hate to slow them down and have them lose their ideas… any thoughts?
Also, how often are you writing it down for them?
Charlotte Mason recommends waiting until age ten or so to begin
asking the child for written narrations. Until that point, all
narration is oral. When Jane was little, I did (as many homeschooling
moms do) a lot of transcribing the narrations she dictated to me; I
printed them out, got her to illustrate them, put them together in a
notebook. I know this works beautifully for a lot of people, and I
don’t want to discourage anyone from doing it if it brings joy to you
and your child.
But I’ll say this: don’t feel obligated to
write down your child’s oral narrations. Don’t feel like you have to
make a notebook or else you’re not doing it properly. After a year or
two of compiling Jane’s narration notebook, I realized the whole
process had become for us an exercise in creating a product.
Jane was beginning to be proud of her notebook, or perhaps "prideful"
is a better word; she had seen me show it off enough times that she too
began to view her work as something to be shown off, something done for
the purposes of impressing one’s friends and relations. I was horrified
by this little epiphany. Of course it was completely my fault. I
ditched the habit of typing out her oral narrations; for a time, I
ditched narrating altogether. When we returned to it, it was to the
simple Charlotte Mason method of asking the child to "tell it back"—no
notebook, no product to display.
What I found that was that in addition to curing our mild show-off
problem, this took away the pressure that had turned narration into a
burden. No longer was it necessary for me to be prepared to scribble
down her words as fast as she said them: I could listen to her narrate
with a baby in my arms. And instead of the type—print—illustrate—bind
production line, narration could lead to discussion. The whole
experience became warmer, richer, and her narrations improved. Her
memory improved; her appetite for ideas increased. I’d read aloud, she’d tell it back, we’d chat about the people in the stories and the problems they encountered.
So this is how narration works in our house today. Rose is narrating
now, too, and Beanie frequently chimes in, unsolicited. When Jane
turned ten I began asking for occasional written narrations.
She is 11 1/2 now, and I ask for about three written narrations a week.
Hope that helps!
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