Wednesday, September 21, 2011


I have been familiar with the concept of narration pretty much the entire time I have been homeschooling (this is my 11th year!).  Narration is simply having your child tell back to you what he has read or what you have read aloud to him.  Narration is also listening to your child spontaneously tell you all about a fantastic book he has read...while you are driving down the road or sharing a meal together.  Narration can be a planned part of your school day, or it can be a natural occurrence as your family reads good books together.

I learned about narration while reading articles about and by Charlotte Mason and Cindy Rushton.  I have had my children narrate their books to me informally over the years, but this year is the first time that I have actually regularly documented their narrations.  I wish I had started this years ago!

Both Clay (7th grade) and Leah (2nd grade) are narrating to me every single school day after I read to them their Sonlight history read alouds for the day.  My procedure for doing this is very simple.

  1. I take my laptop with me to our read aloud area.
  2. I created a document for each of them.  They are titled Clay's Narration 2011 and Leah's Narration 2011. 
  3. Each day after I finish reading to them, I ask them to tell me three (Leah) or five (Clay) things that they remember, learned, found interesting, etc.  I simply type in the day's date, and list the items 1,2,3, etc.  
  4. I save the document, and that's it!  
I plan to print out the entire year's narration at the end of the school year, but I am not sure how I want to save it.  I plan to continue this simple narration for Clay, Leah, and Sam (when I begin with him next year) until they are in high school.  I am excited to one day have the history of the world and the history of our country in my children's own words!

Narration can also lead to creative writing.  As your child gets older, you could have him write his own narration instead of orally giving it to you.  You could also have the child edit and rewrite his narrations occasionally, turning them into a descriptive paragraph, a character sketch, or even an essay!

Do you use narration in your homeschool?  How?  Do you have some great ideas to share?


  1. Thanks Roan! I just started my first ever Narration Record. We had just finished a book (Birdie's Lighthouse) and I'd just asked Jack some questions. Came in to 'blog' about the book, and decided to record it as you suggested instead! Thanks!!

  2. Several years ago Jordan had finished reading a book about Lewis and Clark and was narrating to me at the computer. I finally stopped him after four pages...His fire was ignited for sure! I have also typed up the narrations using no punctuation or capitalization and double spaced. Then the child could go back in and edit as needed. I have also left out paragraphs or had the child tell me when to start a new paragraph as the narration was going on.

  3. Great time saving idea.

    I have always had my kids just tell me what they have read. Those that love to read, love to tell me what they read. Usually while baking in the kitchen or on the way to the store. I've heard many a narration this way over the years.

    I don't have our kiddos write about what they read as I had seen public schools OVER DO this and it always made the children HATE reading. But I have children who are writers and wouldn't mind it but I figure if they can tell me the whole entire story on the way to town then they understand it and that's good enough.

    So no great ideas to share just visit with the kids and they'll tell you all you want to know :-)


  4. Hi Roan! Most of the narraration around our house is spontaneous (being that my kids are 5 and 3), however I do think I will make more of an effort to record their narrations after reading your post!

    Sorry it's taken me a while to reply to your comment, sometimes several days go by before I can get to the computer! My husband is not a runner . . . he used to say that I ran enough for the both of us. In recent years I have not been very consistent or serious about my running, because my kids are very young and sometimes I'm just too pooped to scoot!! However, I do hope to pick it up again more seriously when they get a little older and can ride/run along with me!
    Have a lovely day!

  5. I love your idea of documenting the oral narrations. I think I will do this with Hope. She loves to talk so this shouldn't be a problem!hahaha

  6. We use narration, but I love the idea of typing it out and saving it. I keep binders with all of their table work in them, so I would probably just print them out and put them with their other stuff at the end of the year.

  7. Mine have been giving narrations for years..before I even knew there was a name for it! With our read a louds they each narrate part of the story back to me. I usually start with the youngest, otherwise, oldest tells ALL the details and 8 year old has nothing left to tell and becomes frustrated. He usually narates simple details, while the older two get more in depth..sometimes too much in depth! I first realized there was a name for this when we used sonlight many years ago! We also incorporate narration into our day by having the children write down several things they have learned when reading history books, and my 8 year old narrates writes down 3 things he has learned each time he reads from Christian liberty nature readers, and draws a picture to go with it. I agree, that a written record in their own words is priceless!