When it comes to narration, you don’t just begin once. You begin…and begin…and begin…and sometimes, you have to begin again.
There are certain normal reactions to beginning narration with a six-year-old. In Know and Tell, I’ll explain what those are, so that when your child repeats back the last sentence you read, verbatim, you’ll know he’s normal and hopefully won’t get discouraged.
Sometimes, however, you need to begin narration with an older student. That presents a different set of challenges, and I have a short chapter just to talk about that situation. It may be that it’s a matter of beginning again, too, because you dropped narration for a while. That happens sometimes, but it doesn’t mean you can’t take up the practice of narration for a second try, and reap its benefits.
There comes a moment when you begin written narrations. That’s another beginning and a whole new set of challenges. I’ll show you how to start simply, and then make incremental steps that will take your child from a few words on a page to fluent written narrations.
And once your child has mastered that, you need to begin developing narration into composition. I’ll tell you a bit more about that later.
We often encourage each other to trust the process, and what I hope Know and Tell will do is make the the process clearer. It can be hard to visualize when you are just getting started. The development of narration looks something like this:
From 1st to 3rd grade, the primary focus is on developing oral fluency.
From 4th to 6th grade, the primary focus is on developing writing fluency (while fluent oral narration continues).
From 7th to 9th grade, the new skill introduced is editing, and your primary focus can target your student’s needs–continue building writing fluency if you need to, and begin to tackle composition when you’re ready.
From 10th to 12th grade, the primary focus is on developing composition skills (while enjoying all the benefits of fluent oral and written narration).
Obviously, there is some overlap in each epoch. Students don’t leave oral narration or simple written narration behind, and they sometimes dabble in the next stage while still working on fluency in the current one.
Each stage of narration represents a new beginning, and in Know and Tell I’ve tried to show you what you can expect as you begin each new stage. I have real narrations of others’ beginnings. I hope you’ll be encouraged to see how each new beginning gives your child an opportunity to strengthen and develop his thinking and writing skills.
I’ll just tell you right here one of the “secrets” of narration. Narration is a long game, and if you win, your child wins. If you understand the process, and the way each new beginning builds on the mastery of the previous stage, you will be less concerned about those off days, when narration doesn’t go well (it’s no secret that we all have days like that!). But there’s another little secret—no individual narration is especially important. It’s the continual, consistent practice that builds strong thinking and the power to express oneself clearly. Each new beginning of the process is a fresh start, but each and every narration is also a fresh beginning—either a virtual or literal “blank page” upon which your child can record a bit of knowledge and make it his own.
If you haven’t been using narration, I hope reading Know and Tell will encourage you to begin! —To begin as soon as possible, and to renew your commitment to the process each time you begin the next step.