Are you familiar with narration? Not sure? Most likely, if you have ever had a child excitedly come tell you something they have seen, then you have experienced narration. My children do this all the time and I must confess, I don’t always give their story telling the attention it deserves.
We should, narration is a gift.
Uncertain are you?
Consider this conversation between my 6.5 year old and my husband:
6.5 year old: Daddy, I had the most pleasant dream last night.
My husband: Yeah? Tell me about it?
6.5 year old: I dreamt that everything was made of scrumptious sugar and I went through the whole dream gobbling it all up. (giggles)
My husband: (chuckles at the use of the word ‘scrumptious’) Is that why you woke up with so much energy?
6.5 year old: It is possible but more likely, I am just well rested.
My husband always notices the use of higher vocabulary in our children. He works with people of all ages and comes across enough children to notice a difference in our own. Their grandfather picks up on it too, “They use such big words.” I smile to myself knowing it is reading from living books that are rich with a wide range of sophisticated language and narration.
Notice something else?
Narration builds relationships. Maybe it isn’t as noticeable from such a short conversation but I notice it when I use narration during our time reading together. We cuddle close on the couch and together we become engrossed in the story. Occasionally, I’ll pause and pose a question, “How do you think Heidi feels since she has been taken away from her home in the mountains?” My daughter begins with a touch of morose, “Sorrowful.” Sadly, it was the perfect word for it. Listening to her inner most thoughts, It was here that I began to notice the act of narration not only build connections with the story, the characters within it, but also with the family that you share the narration with. Narration gifts the reader with deeper relationship building abilities.
Narration creates synthetic thinking
This is a concept first introduced to me as I read Know and Tell The Art Of Narration by Karen Glass. “A synthetic approach to knowledge is one that ‘puts together’ or integrates all the different things that are learned into a unified understanding of their relationships. A synthetic thinker is always making connections and noticing similarities between one thing and another.”
How does narration develop synthetic thinking?
In Know and Tell Karen Glass explains, “Because narration strengthens memory, it allows children to gather a growing store of knowledge and understanding. As they learn, one thing reminds them of another. They form connections between old and new knowledge. They gradually see how things are related to each other, and to themselves.” This is a gradual mental habit that slowly trains the intellectual mind but what a gift it is to our children.
Narration builds high-level thinking skills.
Narration builds integral mental habits the most significant- attention. It is something that I’ve really started to observe in both of my children. While my youngest is only 4, he stills sits in and listens to my oldest child’s read out louds. When my oldest provides an oral narration or starts up a discussion, my youngest feels compelled to give a little narration of his own. It is in these moments that I realize how much of a focused attention they are giving to the minute details in the story.
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After reading a section of a chapter you pause and your child provides a short synopsis of what was read. Think of what all goes on during this process. Your child considers the story, comprehends it, forms his/her own thoughts, and takes any of those newly formed words then articulates them. It is in this ordering of knowledge and then narrating that builds higher levels of articulation.
Since reading Know and Tell, I have become more intentional with integrating narration into our reading time. It has been a gentle yet purposeful addition that has gifted us with significant intellectual and relational gifts. Do you use narration in your homeschool? Are you considering it? Do you notice the beneficial gifts in using narration? What are some that you notice?