The Charlotte Mason philosophy of homeschooling is known to most people for two shining areas; nature study and narration. Most simply put, narration is the practice of 'telling back' what one has learned. In the old days, I believe it was called 'reciting' a lesson. We practice a form or narration when we are excited about a book we have just finished, or a movie we have just watched, and we tell someone all about it.
Narration is a very effective tool for the homeschool mom. It can be very effective for teaching a child how to summarize, and I believe it leads a child naturally and gently towards writing well...how less painful to learn to first 'tell' all about a subject, using well-chosen words, grammar and flow. The children also unconsciously grab onto the original author's well-chosen words, and add these pieces of higher vocabulary to their own store-house of knowledge.
The best reason to have your children narrate, I believe, is that is the best way to have your children "own" the material. Having someone learn something, and learn it well enough to then present it to someone else...to be able to take the knowledge and teach someone else- that equals mastery. Learning material and being able to tell it back, makes the material forever their own.
I am actually more of a worksheet girl myself, it must fit into my own personal learning style- or maybe it's my own personal teaching style-best. But, a girl just can't find a worksheet for every book you read to your kids..and if you could, it would be expensive, and maybe a little tedious after a while...
I love narration, because I can read a book on history..and then, wham-o...ask for a narration! It's done! Ta-dah!
We just finished up "The Trojan Horse" by Catherine Storr. I broke it into 2 readings, there were just so many characters and events happening I thought the littles would get a little lost in it all.
The first half, I had the kids draw a scene from our reading, and then I had them write 2 or 3 sentences describing what happened. Much groaning and sighing followed. They thought it was too much laborious writing. For the second half, I asked for a drawing, and then took each child to the computer separately, so they could dictate their narration to me. I get much longer and detailed content that way.
Here is Amie's narration from today. She is 7 and in first grade:
The war of Troy
Achilles didn’t want to be in the war, and his friend went to go fight for him, dressed up in his armor. His best friend was killed, Achilles killed the soldier, got on a chariot and dragged the dead soldier around the city 3 times. An arrow got his foot and Achilles died. Odysseus had a plan, he told the Trojans that they were leaving. The Trojans saw a giant horse statue, they brought it into the city. They had to cut the door, because the horse was too big to fit inside. The horse got inside and everybody decorated it and had a party. Queen Helen knew that something was wrong about the giant horse statue. All the soldiers of Troy were inside the houses sleeping, every person was sleeping and the belly of the horse opened and Greek soldiers came out. The Greek soldiers opened the gates and let the army inside. They fought. They made the people of Troy slaves. They took Helen home.