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Why I Stick with Charlotte Mason Narration

How is narration going in your homeschool?

Personally, I have a 4.5 year old who likes his chance to tell back, a nearly-seven-year-old who is pretty enthusiastic (although will miss out major plot points from time to time), and an eight year old who is completely capable but who is a bit slow to start – and then easily distracted. I’ve started having him close his eyes when I ask him to narrate or to tell back what he remembers from the story I just read. As it would happen, removing visual input makes narration much easier for him.

Narration is a funny thing. It doesn’t feel like much as your child is doing it. Unless you are recording or taking notes, there is no memento of the narration, unlike a completed worksheet or a report card. When older, more experienced moms encourage us to ‘trust the process’, it really does feel like that. I’m trusting that this simple act of ‘telling back’ is going to help my children understand and remember new ideas, encourage them to mull them over, and help them remember those ideas later.

Narration Bears Fruit

But even though I’m only a few years in, I already see the fruit of narration. Bigger vocabularies, ‘playing’ their stories, an exclamation of familiarity when we read King Alfred mentioned in A Little Princess. Family conversations where explanations begin with ‘Remember how in that story we read…’ And they do remember.

Narration is hard work. But it is good work, and it’s in that work that our minds (and our children’s minds) do the mental ‘digestion’ that Charlotte Mason wrote about, taking from their readings the ideas which will furnish their mental growth. That’s why I continue to stick with it: it is the basis for self-education.

Making Narration Work in Your Homeschool

Of course, narration is not straightforward for everyone. It can be more than just ‘hard work’ for some children. But when this is the case, I think it’s more important than ever to have a good handle on what narration is and why Charlotte Mason advocated for it. How else do we navigate the Charlotte Mason method and its application to our specific families?

In a recent episode of the Thinking Love podcast, Leah and I lay a foundation for understanding narration in a Charlotte Mason homeschool. We touch on what it is, its purpose, and even get into some basic troubleshooting. I hope you’ll click through or find the podcast in your favorite app and give it a listen.

More Resources on Charlotte Mason Narration

If you are just getting started with narration in your homeschool, or if you’ve been trying it a while and it’s a bit rough, it’s important to get input and advice from people who understand what narration is, who know that it’s a marathon that bears fruit over the long term, and who have a solid, yet grace-filled appreciate for Charlotte Mason’s principles. Irecommend these resources:

  • Know and Tell by Karen Glass. Apart from Charlotte Mason’s volumes, this is the ultimate source for learning about narration. (No affiliate link, but I do give my recommended process for buying books online on my resource page.)
  • The Ambleside Online forum and Facebook group are wonderful places to get input from moms who are further ahead of you in the race, who have a wide variety of experience, and who will give thoughtful advice on how to make narration work in your home, with your children.
  • I always appreciate Leah’s insight as a Charlotte-Mason-teacher-turned-homeschooler at My Little Robins. Check out her ‘Method of a Lesson’ post to see how narration fits into the bigger picture of a homeschool day.

A letter from me to you, every week.

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Narration is a simple, effective method that helps children understand and remember what they learn. But it's not always easy. Here's why I stick with it in my Charlotte Mason homeschool.

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