Composition in the Form of Written Narration Begins by Age 10

More Than a Charlotte Mason Moment

According to Charlotte Mason, composition in the form of written narration should begin by age 10.

When children narrate, they tell back in their own words what they have just read or heard. Charlotte Mason considered oral narration as the earliest form of composition. She used the words “narration” and “composition” interchangeably. Charlotte Mason had children under age 9 take care of their composition instruction by orally narrating. She had them intertwine these narrations with history, science, reading, and the like. By age 10, children were ready to begin composition in the form of written narration. At Heart of Dakota, we agree!

According to Charlotte Mason, in written narrations, the child and the author should be trusted to be left alone together.

According to Charlotte Mason, composition in the form of written narration is “as natural as running and jumping to children who have been allowed to read lots of books.” If they orally narrate first of all, they will compose sooner or later, but they should not be taught “composition” as a separate body of information to be learned. Instead, it is important that the child and the author be trusted to be left alone together. There should be no middle-man such as a teacher telling the child what the book said, or about what to think. According to Charlotte Mason, our business as teachers is to “provide children the material for their lessons, while leaving the handling of that material to themselves.” In short, we are not to hamper them by too many instructions. At Heart of Dakota, we agree!

According to Charlotte Mason, reading living books and narrating from them helps children develop their own individual style.

Children who have gotten into the habit of reading good literature absorb what they will from it themselves, in their own way, whether it’s a lot or a little. Reading living books and narrating from them helps children to begin to form their own literary style. Because they have been in the company of great minds, their style will not be an exact copy of any one in particular, but will instead be shaped as an individual style from the wealth of materials they possess to create a natural style of their own. At Heart of Dakota, we agree!

According to Charlotte Mason, written narration done properly develops self-expression and individual literary style.

Narration done properly develops the power of self-expression and invites a child’s personality to become part of the learning process. A child should choose vocabulary he finds appealing, make it his own, and then give it forth again with that own unique touch that comes from his own mind. This is why no two narrations should be exactly alike. It is also why teachers should not expect their children to give the same narration they would have given. At Heart of Dakota, we agree!

Written narration requires higher level thinking than fill-in-the-blank and multiple choice questions.

Narrating requires a higher level of thinking. Consider the skill it takes to fill in blanks or choose from multiple-choice answers. Now, consider the skills it takes to retell a story you have just heard or read! Clearly the latter proves to require higher-level thinking. In order to demonstrate the complex skill of narrating, try your hand at it yourself. Now that you’ve read much of this blog post, try this! Walk away and get a sheet of paper to write down all that you can remember. Or, would you find it easier if you were now given multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blank, or true/false questions instead?

Oral and written narrations improve children’s composing abilities and public speaking skills.

Narration provides far more information about children’s comprehension because they must answer without the support clues provided by questions. Charlotte Mason replaced the quiz, test, chapter review, and book report by something far more effective. Why? She found what children take time to put into their own words is retained because it has become their own. With narration, you’ve just found the key to really knowing what your children know! This is why, even after children have become skilled at writing narrations, oral narrations are continued. Maintaining oral narrations keeps improving both a child’s composing ability and his public speaking skills. There is simply not a better way to “test” a child’s comprehension and retention than oral and written narration!

Heart of Dakota’s guides include step-by-step tips on how to teach, practice, and edit written narrations.

Once written narrations are assigned, each Heart of Dakota guide includes clear, step-by-step tips on how to teach and practice the skill of written narration. We provide both teacher and student tips for written narrations before, during, and after the narration process. Furthermore, we provide a Written Narration Skills List to guide students through the process of incrementally working toward editing their written narrations, which is different than revising, mastering one small step at a time.

We begin formal written narration instruction in Preparing Hearts for His Glory once weekly. We continue composition in the form of written narration through 12th grade, incrementally progressing this Charlotte Mason inspired skill in length, complexity, and depth. Our final U.S. History II high school guide includes eight types of written narration: detailed, recorded, summary, key word, highlighted, topic, opinion, and persuasive. We based these types of written narrations upon the composition assignments Charlotte Mason assigned herself, according to her own detailed descriptions.

In Closing…

In closing, here are a few inspiring quotes from Charlotte Mason in regard to composition in the form of written narrations…

Children in this Form (Ages 9-12) have a wider range of reading, a more fertile field of thought, and more delightful subjects for composition. They write their little essays themselves (referring to written narration), and for the accuracy of their knowledge and justice of their expression, why ‘still the wonder grows’. They’ll describe their favorite scene from “The Tempest” or “Woodstock”. They write to ‘tell’ stories from work set in Plutarch or Shakespeare or tell of the events of the day. They narrate from English, French, and General History, from the Old and New Testament, from “Stories from the History of Rome”, from Bullfinch’s “Age of Fable”, from, for example, Goldsmith’s or Wordsworth’s poems, from “The Heroe’s of Asgard”: in fact, Composition is not an adjunct but an integral part of their education in every subject. (Vol. 6, p. 192)

Having been brought up so far upon stylists the pupils are almost certain to have formed a good style: because they have been thrown into the society of many great minds, they will not make a servile copy of any one but will shape an individual style out of the wealth of material they possess; and because they have matter in abundance and of the best they will not write mere verbiage. (Vol 6, p. 194)

At Heart of Dakota, we agree!

In Christ,

Julie

How do learning styles affect a child’s ability to orally narrate?

Dear Carrie

How do learning styles affect a child’s ability to orally narrate?

Dear Carrie,

We just started using Heart of Dakota and are enjoying it. I am just wondering how learning styles affect a child’s ability to orally narrate. What if a child is not an auditory learner? Can this complicate their ability to answer and respond to questions? My daughter is a hands-on, visual learner. She struggles to answer questions after I have read a history lesson to her (LHFHG). Is this typical for her age (6) as she learns to concentrate on listening carefully? Or would it be a sign of laziness? Or should I attribute it to her learning style? Should I give her a break when it comes to remembering what she has heard? I know that Charlotte Mason insisted on only one reading before narration. Should I just keep encouraging her to listen more carefully?

Sincerely,

“Ms. Please Explain How Learning Styles Affect a Child’s Ability to Orally Narrate”

Dear “Ms. Please Explain How Learning Styles Affect a Child’s Ability to Orally Narrate,”

Narration is different than answering questions. Narrating upon a passage means having the child tell back in his/her own words what was remembered from the passage that was just read. The questions at the end of the chapters in History Stories for Children or History for Little Pilgrims actually aren’t leading to narration. They are more just question and answer sessions. The questions in these cases are an extra bonus part of the readings. I don’t consider these to be hugely necessary at this stage of learning. Especially when the reading has been spread out over more than one day, your child should not be expected to remember the answers to those questions that are delayed in the asking. The activities that follow the reading (in the other boxes of the LHFHG day’s plans) are those that I would consider more appropriate and necessary skill-wise for students to complete.

In contrast, the Thorton Burgess questions are more like narration prompts or starters.

On the other hand, the Thornton Burgess style questions are meant to lead to narration. These questions are what I would consider to be narration prompts or narration starters. Each day of the Storytime part of the plans has a specific skill focus. This means that each day hits a different set of skills, all of which are very important to building narration, discernment, vocabulary, writing, and a host of other skills.

Though a child’s learning style may affect how he orally narrates, children of all learning styles can learn to narrate well. 

A child’s learning style may affect how well or how easily a child narrates, but kiddos of all learning styles can learn to narrate well. While auditory learners are good listeners, this doesn’t mean they will easily sift and sort through what they heard in order to organize a lucid narration! Though visual learners benefit from seeing and reading their own textual material leading to better narration, it doesn’t mean they won’t be able to narrate well until they can read their material themselves. While kinesthetic, hands-on learners benefit from acting out the story to help retell it (as we do in the Storytime box of the plans, or in writing or typing their narration as we do in later guides), this doesn’t mean they can’t learn to be great narrators unless those techniques are used. I know this is true because it has been true for my 4 sons.

Though my sons have their own learning styles, each can learn to orally narrate well.

My oldest son is a bodily, kinesthetic learner. Yet, he is good a seeing the big picture. This makes him a natural oral narrator, even when he just listens or reads without any bodily motion. My second son is a detailed, artistic child. He is not auditory, but is very visual. His sense of detail leads to him being a good, detailed oral narrator (whether he is listening or reading the material himself). My third son is an auditory child. He loves anything audio or read aloud, yet he was my briefest narrator for several years. Now, he narrates very well, which just means that it took him some time to come along in the narration department. My youngest is also auditory, and he is coming along well but taking his time to work up to any length.

All children can learn to orally narrate well, regardless of their learning style.

As you can see, though we have different learning styles represented at our house, success in narrating doesn’t necessarily correlate to their learning style. I share this so you can be assured that all children can learn to narrate regardless of their learning style, with regular practice. We build this practice into all of Heart of Dakota’s guides, so you can be sure that we will help you lead your children toward becoming better narrators one step at a time.

Blessings,
Carrie

 

Why homeschool? A small class size means more personal attention!

From Our House to Yours

Why homeschool? A small class size means more personal attention!

One of the most well-documented ways to improve student achievement is to reduce class size. Students in small classes score higher on tests, receive better grades, and attend school more regularly. They also show increased persistence, motivation, and self-esteem. The benefits of reducing class size in early grades have been proven to last well into the later grades. Furthermore, gains in upper grades associated with smaller class size can even surpass the gains in the lower grades. Teachers are often asked what the most effective way to improve their teaching would be. Their response? Reduce class size. So, why homeschool? You have a very small class size, which means more personal attention from the teacher for children to do their very best!

With a small class size, we can better see our children’s strengths!

In homeschooling with Heart of Dakota, we can give our children personal attention day in and day out. With our small class size, we can simply better see our children’s strengths. We might see one child is better at math, so we can move this child along more quickly. Perhaps we might see another child is better at reading, so we can choose a higher level of DITHOR. Possibly we might see yet another child is better at drawing, so we can give more time for creative projects. We might see in still another child the mind of a young budding scientist, so we can give extra time for experiments. With a small class size, we can better see our children’s strengths and adjust our homeschooling accordingly!

With a small class size, we can better see our children’s struggles!

In homeschooling, we can give our children personal attention each and every day. With our small class size, we can better see our children’s struggles. We might see one child struggles with math, so we can spend longer on fact memorization. Perhaps we might see another child struggles with reading, so we can spend longer on phonics. Possibly we might see yet another child struggles with writing, so we might experiment with different pencils, grippers, and paper. We might see in still another child the struggle to focus and pay attention, so we can choose a quieter room with less distractions, or we can add more time to get up and move. With a small class size, we can better see our children’s struggles and adjust our homeschooling accordingly!

With a small class size, we can better provide space, supplies, and resources for our children!

In homeschooling, we can always give personal attention to each child. With our small class size, we can better provide space for our children to spread out and work. We can also provide enough supplies for our children. Each child can have his own art supplies, his own work area, and his own place to leave out creative projects that are ongoing. Likewise, we can better provide resources for our children. Each child can do his own science experiments, his own demonstrations, and his own art projects, rather than watching one teacher or a few children do them. Similarly, each child can have his own computer to work on, his own books to read, and his own favorite chair to sit upon. With a small class size, we can easily provide enough space, supplies, and resources for each of our children!

In Closing

In homeschooling, even with a very large family, our ‘class size’ is still smaller than the average class size in other forms of education. Why not start giving your children some personal attention within the ‘small class size’ of your family, by homeschooling them right within your own home today?

In Christ,

Julie

Don’t skip the thought bubbles in the Singapore math textbook.

Teaching Tip:

With Singapore math, how do you know what to emphasize each day?

If you are using Singapore math, it can be a bit confusing sometimes to know what to emphasize. Typically there is one main concept for each day of plans. So, how do you decipher what that concept is? Here is one tip that we have found helpful.

Don’t skip the thought bubbles in the Singapore math textbook.

The “word bubbles” or “thinking bubbles” in each textbook lesson are very important. These bubbles are drawn next to children in the textbook to show what they are thinking. The children are sharing the thinking process your child is to go through as he/she solves the problems in the lesson. Many times this process is a bit different than the way you learned to do problems like these.

The Singapore method of thinking is found within the word bubbles.

It is worth the extra time it takes to decipher the process the thinking bubble is showing. This is because the Singapore method is “talked through” in the thinking bubble. So, read the thought bubbles aloud as you go over the textbook lesson with your child. Help your child discover the process being described in the bubble, and then apply it in the lesson’s problems.

If you haven’t been paying attention to the thought bubbles in the textbook, now is a good time to start!

So, if you haven’t been paying attention to the word or thought bubbles in the textbook up until now, you may want to start. I didn’t notice how important these were until we went up higher and higher in the Singapore Primary math levels. When my next little ones started Singapore though, I emphasized these from the beginning! Try it and see what a difference it makes over time.

Blessings,
Carrie

March Library Builder: Save 10% on the Resurrection to Reformation Basic Set!

Library Builder

Use coupon code MARCH-LIBRARY for 10% on this month’s Library Builder book set: The Resurrection to Reformation Basic Package!

We are excited to continue our  Heart of Dakota Library Builder book set promotion! On the 1st Wednesday of each month we will be promoting one of our book sets with a 10% coupon code. For this month’s special, use coupon code MARCH-LIBRARY on our website for the entire month of March to apply the savings to your order. The coupon applies to the Resurrection to Reformation Basic Package set of books.   To view all of the books in this set, just click here! (Scroll down until you see the “History Read-Alouds” section.)

How is the Basic Package used in Resurrection to Reformation?

Well, we could tell you, but why reinvent the wheel? Carrie and Julie have already done an excellent job of outlining how these books are used in the Resurrection to Reformation Introduction, so why don’t we have a quick look at that?

(From the Introduction to Resurrection to Reformation):

Storytime
Daily storytime sessions are linked to the “Reading about History” box of the plans by similar historical time period. These books provide the historical backdrop, or a panoramic view of history, while the “Reading about History” readings provide a more factual view.

These scheduled read-alouds are highly recommended, unless you need to
economize. Complete listings and book descriptions for these books can be found in the Appendix. These books are sold as a set as a Basic Package, or sold individually, at www.heartofdakota.com.

The following activities rotate through the “Storytime” box of plans and coordinate with the read-aloud assignments: orally narrating, finding vivid descriptions, locating new vocabulary, identifying plot twists, recognizing strong moods, copying great lines, and watching for life lessons. Students will record their answers on index cards. Depending on how large students write, they will need 12 or more index cards. We suggest placing the cards on a ring for organizational purposes.

Note: If you are already doing a Storytime package with a different Heart of Dakota program, you may choose to have 5th-6th grade students read the books in this package on their own by following the plans in the “Storytime” box. These students should be strong, independent readers who aren’t overly sensitive. Otherwise, reading aloud is the preferred method for using this package.

Use coupon code MARCH-LIBRARY to save!

To apply this month’s savings, just enter coupon code MARCH-LIBRARY on our website when you check out! We hope these books will be as treasured to you as they are to us!

Have a great rest of the week!
Heart of Dakota

PS: If you’d like a more in-depth look at what using Resurrection to Reformation looks like in your home, have a look at this article!

Resurrection to Reformation: Heart of Dakota’s Homeschool Program for Ages 10-12, with Extensions for Ages 13-14