Imagine the most wonderful breakfast you’ve ever had, or dreamed of having. Of course there will be multiple parts to it. Eggs, bacon, toast, biscuits, delicious jelly, perhaps pancakes or waffles with cream and berries. Naturally, it will be accompanied by the very best coffee or tea (or both), along with creamy milk and fresh-squeezed orange juice. This is a very good breakfast, and you would be happy to have it.
But imagine having to prepare that every day. We need breakfast, and it’s important. But what if all we have time for today is a piece of toast with peanut butter? What if our energy levels are low? A bowl of cornflakes will keep us going for a bit. Maybe we need to grab an apple or a granola bar and hurry out the door for a busy day.
The ideal breakfast is out there, and without a doubt, there will be the day when that breakfast is served. And we will be delighted. We will enjoy every bite and tuck it away in memory as that time when we got to savor the best of all possible breakfasts. But life doesn’t generally allow us that every day, and we can be content with toast, oatmeal, cornflakes, or a tub of yogurt most of the time, because those more modest breakfasts meet our needs and keep us going until lunch.
What does this have to do with narration?
If you practice narration in your home school and hang out with other moms who practice narration, you are going to hear about other kids’ narrations. Moms like to share. You’ll read about the great narration someone else’s six year old, or ten year old, or teenager did, and you might look side-wise at your own kids and worry that their narrations aren’t quite at that level.
But neither is every breakfast.
You’d take a picture of that fancy breakfast and post it on Instagram, but maybe not the peanut butter toast, and definitely not the pre-packaged yogurt or granola bar. It’s the same with the narrations we tend to share. We share the best of the best—the really good ones that we appreciated and savored because they were special.
But the daily round of breakfast—and narrations—isn’t always photo-worthy.
And that is one hundred percent okay.
Read that sentence again and make sure you really, really get it. It is okay—absolutely, positively fine—that breakfast and narrations are a little ordinary.
Because the raison d’être of breakfast is just to fuel you up until lunch, and the raison d’être of narration is simply to exercise the mind so that it digests what it has taken in. It isn’t a graded performance.
If your child’s narration lacks the bells and whistles of a fancy breakfast, just think about the basic substance. Did they understand the material enough to be able to narrate it at all? That’s enough—you can move on to the next thing. The need has been met, and there will be many opportunities in the future for the really lively, engaged narration with flourishes and connections to other things. That’s the one you’ll want to savor and share (like those other moms). But it doesn’t mean the more humdrum daily narrations don’t matter, or haven’t done their work in the marathon task that is a child’s education.
Just as we don’t have the time and money resources to make every breakfast a picture-perfect feast, our children don’t have the mental resources to make every narration a stand-out masterpiece you’ll want to share on the internet. But if they’ve shown up and made the effort to narrate at all, that’s what needed to happen, and like oatmeal for breakfast, everyone will be satisfied enough to keep going. For today, that’s what counts.