Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Miss Mason Monday

So it isn’t actually Monday…I know! Yesterday was so crazy (as life can sometimes be with four little ones) that I didn’t get around to typing up my notes. Sorry!! Although this is one of my many priorities it takes a back burner to the others. I am hoping that this will be the exception and not the norm but we will see…
Narration- Chapter 3
This has been one area that we have struggled with so much this year! No, we haven’t struggled in implementing narration because anything can be turned into “narration practice” but we have struggled with getting good narrations from our children.
A typical narration from them is a fragmented sentence hurriedly spat out. They are also masters and mumbling. I know that this may sound harsh but it is the reality in our home. I know exactly where they get those habits from by the way!
So, we have slowly worked on this thing called narration.
What exactly is narration? It is the assimilation of information and retelling it in your own words. Catherine Levison says in her book that  “you cannot narrate what you do not know. If you can narrate it, you know it.”
Miss Mason states in her The Original Home Education Series, “Things that we read only become knowledge as we assimilate it, as our mind acts upon it. We must read with the specific intention to know the matter being read. We can read without that effort but it does us no good.” (Vol. 6, p.12-13)
I have seen the truth of this in our own experiences! It is very easy to tell if a child has gained understanding and knowledge using the method! But why is this so important to us? It is important because this is a cornerstone of the CM philosophy.
“This, of getting ideas out of them, is by no means all we must do with books. ‘In all labor there is profit,’ at any rate in some labor, and the labor of thought is what his book must induce in the child. He must generalize, classify, infer, judge, visualize, discriminate, labor in one way or another, with that capable mind of his, until the substance of his book is assimilated or rejected, according as he shall determine; for the determination rests with him and not with his teacher.” (Vol. 3, p.179)
Wow huh? I’ve read this before but just know am able to more clearly see what Miss Mason was getting at. Narration is labor, it is a work but is profitable! Books, great books must speak to the child. He then needs to grown into bringing all that was read into his own thoughts and then his own words. BUT he is to determine what parts he will leave out and what parts he will include. This is his work, not the work of the teacher.
I have a hard time with not feeding my children information. I guess it is because we are still slowly growing with narration that I feel I must give to them ideas and thoughts instead of just letting them take the time to form their own. I however am working on this!!
So, how do we go about executing narration? Miss Mason’s suggestion, “The simplest way of dealing with a paragraph or a chapter is to require the child to narrate its contents after a single attentive reading, –one reading, however slow, should be made a condition.” (Vol. 3, p.179)
For those starting out it is suggested that narration be taken slowly, bit by bit, piece by piece. There should be no rush. Read one passage 10-13 minutes in length. Now I will interject that I have been advised to even do paragraph narrations or even more extreme, sentence narrations. If the children are struggling with narrating a whole chapter (as I would even struggle) then shorten it to whatever length that your child can handle. Slowly, throughout the course of a few months to even a year, build up to longer readings.
Also we must require that our children give their complete attention to the readings. Do not interrupt the readings to define words (also hard for me). Once finished with whatever length of reading that is appropriate for our children we are to ask them what the reading was about. Our main job is to sit back and listen. We can then comment on the narration when it is over, add in details that were missed (not pointing out, “You forgot this and this and this!!) and even ask if anyone else has anything to add.
Oral narration is to begin at age 6. 
“Until he is six, let Bobbie narrate only when and what he has a mind to. …narrating is an art, like poetry-making or painting, because it is there in every child’s mind, waiting to be discovered, and is not the result of any process of disciplinary education.”  (Vol. 1)
Before age six we should allow our children to narrate about what they please. Let them tell you about a bug that they just saw outside, what happened in Sunday School, what he and Daddy did that afternoon, anything!! I had my son (4.5 yrs.) run in the other day and tell me about something that he saw outside. I stopped what I was doing to get down, look him in the eye and listen. A few years ago I would have kept on doing whatever it was that I was doing and not even looked at my girls when they were his age. I’ve learned a lot since then and am trying to correct my errors. Miss Mason is helping me along the way! Children will narrate about anything and everything…if we let them! This is wonderful for their little minds! Let’s all try to do it more.
Well, my time is quickly running out so I will leave it here for this week. Next week I want to share some ideas about summer narration. I am also working on a summer reading list. Share yours in the comment section if you would like! I am also going to share a narration or two from my own sweet children. Just remember, this is a work in progress here!!
Until next time!
Lovin' Learnin'


  1. Thank you for taking the time to read it. I am by no means a CM expert but am learning that by blogging about what I am learning is helping me to absorb more and more.


Tell us something!