The concept of narration as a learning tool is not a new one, but as I learned today, it is a very effective one! Charlotte Mason wrote that a pupil should learn to be able to "grasp the sense of a passage of some length at a single reading: and to narrate the substance of what they have read or heard." (from the appendix of School Education, Volume 3 of her series). Narration is: "Quite simply, it is the art of 'telling back' what you just read or heard from a book." -- from Lindafay at Higher Up and Further In (Which, by the way, is my favorite Charlotte Mason method homeschooling blog.) :)
We do our Bible readings every morning before we do any of our other schoolwork. It's the most important thing we learn, so we do it first to make sure it gets done! :) It takes so long for me to read it aloud, though, that I have started assigning chapters for Jaela and Macey to read on their own in their NIVs, while Anya reads a Bible storybook. They read so quickly that when they told me they were done with their SIX chapters this morning, I asked them to narrate to me individually so I could make sure that they actually read it. (My mom is thinking right about now that this sounds awfully familiar!) :)
They read the first six chapters of Exodus today, so I told them to start from the beginning of the story, and pretend that I didn't know anything about Moses. Macey went first, and it was like pulling teeth to get any details out of that child! She had the storyline completely correct though, and told me everything in the right order, but it took a lot of prompting and patience on my part to get it all told. Jaela, on the other hand, went into so much detail that I found myself thinking more than once, "I'd forgotten that!", and even "Did I ever know that?". She too had the storyline in perfect chronological order, and they both proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that they had read what they were supposed to!
I have to admit that the differences between their narrating styles really surprised me, although I WAS forewarned that there could be such differences. Lindafay wrote about her own children on her blog in a post titled Detailed Narrations and The Summary: "One of my children loves to give very detailed narrations. She can remember details so well that when she narrates, she sounds like the author....However, she shows a weakness in her ability to summarize a passage so that just the most important people and events are mentioned. My other daughter has the exact opposite strength and weakness. She summarizes beautifully but doesn't pay attention to details as much as she should."
I am so grateful (as a mom and as a teacher!) for Lindafay's insight! While I might have considered one narrating style only a strength and the other only a weakness, Lindafay points out that BOTH styles have equal parts strength and weakness, and she lays out a method for me as the teacher to use to strengthen the weaknesses and teach the proper use of each style. Not only that, but in her post she continues on the subject of narration, giving more ideas and backing them up with examples from her (and her children's) experiences. I really, really like her blog (can y'tell?!?). It's nice to have an example to follow as we're beginning this new method of homeschooling, and yet I don't feel compelled to do everything the "Lindafay way", either.
And, OH, this new method is fun! :)