Tried and True Tips for Independent Readers to Improve Their Narrations

More Than a Charlotte Mason Moment

Tips to Encourage Independent Readers to Improve Their Oral Narrations 

We all know oral narrations are an important part of a Charlotte Mason education. However, most of us didn’t grow up giving oral narrations ourselves. Instead, we grew up with fill-in-the blank, true/false, and multiple-choice quizzes and tests. As we more than likely promptly forgot everything we ‘learned’ after we took the quiz or test, we know this assessment method is often not very successful (not to mention not very enjoyable). So, while on one hand we may know oral narrations make great sense to do, on the other hand we may feel we don’t quite know how to help our children improve their narrating. Well, that is the topic of this blog post! Today, I’ll be sharing tried and true tips you can use to encourage your independent readers to improve their oral narrations!

Tips for Setting Children Up for Success

These tips help us set our children up for success in narrating before they even begin! First, before they begin reading, we can give a very brief overview of what happened last time in the book. This jogs their memory and takes them back to where they left off in their reading. Second, we can simply tell them they will be giving an oral narration when they are done reading. It seems like a little thing, but children read more carefully knowing they will be narrating when they are done. Third, right before they are going to narrate, we can help by skimming the book ourselves. Let me stress the ‘skimming’ part of this tip. Rather than reading the entire book, we can instead skim the small section our children will be narrating upon right before they narrate. This helps us make sure they are on topic when giving their narration.

Tips for Encouraging Our Children While They Are Narrating

These tips are going to seem simple, but they are actually quite hard to remember to do. After our children have finished reading, the first thing we can do to help is just to remind them what an oral narration actually is. We can do this by simply saying, Okay! Remember, an oral narration is telling me in your own words all you can about what you just read. Second, we need to be holding the book in our hands, open to the first page that they read; children should not be holding the book and looking at it themselves unless assigned to do so (i.e. like in high school highlighted oral narrations).  Third, and this is sometimes the hard part, we should listen animatedly without interrupting. I find I listen most animatedly when I am sitting down, near my children, making eye contact and smiling encouragingly.

Tips for Encouraging Our Children After They Are Done Narrating

Once our children finish narrating, the first tip I have is simply to say something positive. I might compliment my children for sticking to the topic, for sharing a neat quote, for narrating in a good order, for using proper names of people/events/places, for using good expression, for starting strong with a good beginning, for ending well with a good concluding sentence, for sharing a really interesting or important part of the reading well, for sounding like the author, for being excited as they narrated, for ‘becoming’ the person in the story, for finding their own ‘style’ in narrating, etc. Being genuinely positive about narrating helps our children feel more positive about narrating.

Tips for Improvements

Next, I share a few things my children can improve on. For example, it’s important to get numbers right (i.e. millions – not thousands – died in the Holocaust), or names right (i.e. King Louis the 14th – not the 16th), or places right (i.e. New England – not England). Or, I might ask them to try to start their sentences with something other than “And then.” I might ask them to omit a word they are overusing or a poor word (i.e. ‘basically,’ or ‘stuff’, or ‘ummmm’). If the order was off, I might suggest they try to tell something from the beginning, middle, and end next time. Or, if they narrated in a monotone voice, I might narrate a few sentences myself in a monotone voice and then in an animated voice to show the difference. If they were off topic, I might have them read the key idea for help next time.

In Closing

In closing, even though we may not have grown up orally narrating, we can still help our children learn to narrate well. These tried and true tips help children gain confidence and gradually improve their narrating. Often times, when we choose to be positive, our children respond positively in return. We set the tone, and it is important to share more positives than negatives, especially at the start. These tips help set the stage for a positive narrating experience.  Try some of them, and see how they go! Happy narrating!

In Christ,
Julie

 

Homeschool mom of 4 who doesn’t want to combine… tips? Scheduling ideas?

Dear Carrie

I am a homeschool mom of 4, and I am not comfortable combining, so what tips or scheduling ideas do you have?

Dear Carrie,

I am a homeschool mom of four children ages 7, 5, 3, 2. I’m excited, and after much research I am set on Heart of Dakota! However, I need some encouragement that it is possible to homeschool four children without losing your sanity. I really want this to be an extension of peace in our home. I’m not comfortable with combining them in the same programs, (2 and 2). So, any tips or scheduling ideas would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

Sincerely,

“Please Help Me with Scheduling Ideas for 4 Without Combining”

Dear “Please Help Me with Scheduling Ideas for 4 Without Combining,”

I’m not sure if you have had a chance to check out the scheduling thread. That may be worth a peek, and you can click here to check it out!

When working with LHTH, LHFHG or Beyond, I like scheduling 30 minutes to do the left side of the daily plans in one sitting for each guide. During this 30 minute session, I start with the history (or Bible) reading first and then end with the box on the left side of the plans that looks like I could get the kiddos started and they could finish on their own. Often that is scheduling the bottom left-hand corner box.

I minimize interruptions by planning ahead, and I teach the 30 minute left side of the guide in the morning.

During that 30 minutes time, I make sure I won’t have interruptions. I don’t answer the phone, put in a load of laundry, or leave the child’s side. Any kiddos who need me come to me, however they are NOT to interrupt unless it’s a severe emergency. I makes sure about scheduling the baby to happily play with toys in his crib or playpen for that 30 minutes. I make sure the older kiddos are working independently. Often scheduling the middle kiddo to listen to a book on tape, to finish his chores, or to do an educational computer game works well. I also try to make sure to get my 30 minutes left side of the guide time in for each of my kiddos in the morning. This takes the pressure off because I’ve already finished a big chunk of the day’s plans by lunch then.

I start with something independent, so I have time for grooming for baby and me.

Since I’m not a morning person, I take that into account and scheduling my kiddos to start with something independent the first part of the day helps. That way, I have time to get the baby (and me) dressed and groomed. I can check everyone’s rooms and make sure everyone has eaten before launching into my teaching for the day. Yet, my kiddos are already underway during that time doing their first subject pretty independently. Additionally, I like scheduling the kiddos to have at least one or more subjects out of the way before joining me for their 30 minute left side session.

I like to to plan 45-60 minutes of playtime for my 4-6 year olds after breakfast.

I do like scheduling my 4-6 year olds to play an extra 45 – 60 minutes in their room after breakfast in the morning too. This gives me time with my olders to quietly work on their tougher subjects before the little ones descend upon us for the day.

We enjoy a morning recess 45 minutes each day and eat lunch together.

We all do still like scheduling a morning recess together for 45 minutes every day. Usually, we typically go out around 11:00. Also, we all eat lunch together, which my oldest begins getting ready while I’m finishing with the youngers. (We keep it very simple following the weekly menu on the fridge).

It also helps to do the LHTH toddler/preschooler earlier in the day so that the little one feels like he/she has had time with mama. Once he’s been with me, he’s more content to go play. Otherwise, that little one is begging for my time all day! Hope these tips help!

Blessings,
Carrie

Keeping a Similar Routine Each Day

Teaching Tip

Is your school day running longer than you would like?

This is the next installment in our series of posts about things to check if your school day seems to be running longer than you would like. I know this can happen to any of us, and hopefully these tips may help!

Tip #4

Do you keep a similar routine each day?

Do you keep a similar routine each day so that your children’s routine becomes second nature? While you don’t necessarily have to be exactly on time each day, it is so helpful to keep the same general routine or order of subjects each day. This takes away the question of what a child should do next and minimizes interruptions. I’ve had to become more scheduled and more routine the more years I’ve taught, however it has actually been a blessing at our house as everyone knows what to do when. Try it and see what you think!

Blessings,
Carrie