November 29, 2011

Language Arts: Why Narration?

Why should you use narration in your homeschool? Here are a few good points at

What is Narration?

Reading and narration is the foundation of a Charlotte Mason language arts program. Indeed it is the heart of the entire method itself and is used for almost all subjects. It is a most powerful way of learning because narration comes to us naturally. Textbooks, quizzes and worksheets, I think we can all agree, are limited in their ability to keep our minds focused and learning. They play little part in helping us to retain knowledge.

Narration, however, utilizes a very basic human act: Telling someone what we know.

An Accurate Assessment Tool

We narrate all the time.
  • We've just read a good book or watched a movie. We tell a friend or spouse about it. 
  • An incident occurs and we must tell the police what we saw.
  • We had a conversation with someone and told someone else about it. 
All of this is narration.  It proves we have knowledge of that book, movie, incident or conversation.

In none of those situations will we be required to take a pop quiz or answer comprehension questions to ensure we know the material. . It is universally understood that we can only narrate what we have seen or experienced.

The same is true for children. Because "children are persons" (Charlotte Mason's #1 principle), they are capable of telling what they know. Children tell us of things they did with their friends or on a sleepover. They narrate to us the latest episode of their favorite television show or movie with ease. When children can narrate to us what they have read or had read to them, we know that they paid attention, they grasped the information, and they retained it.

And isn't that the best assessment of their knowledge?

Conversely, we've all had our mind wander while reading a book. Suddenly we realize that we don't know what we've just read. Certainly, we would not be able to share the information with anyone else because we were not focused, did not process it and therefore did not retain it. This further proves that narration is an accurate tool of assessment.

Why Beneficial

The benefit to the home educator is that narration helps us to assess whether or not the child took in the information, processed it and retained it. The benefit to the child is that narration encourages him to pay full, focused attention to details and information; it helps him organize his thoughts and it trains him to express those thoughts clearly.

Narration along with copywork and dictation form the basis for the child's language arts education. Next, we'll be discussing the nuts and bolts of all three of these and how they work together.

Have you experienced the benefits of using narration in your homeschool?

Happy Homeschooling!


  1. That was a really good explanation Michelle! All true of course...

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