When I first found CM and starting reading books about the CM method, I had seen the whole narration process as just the parent or child reading a section and then the child ‘telling back’ what was read. Then you just move onto the next book. Well I remember the day I finally read CM’s own words on Narration in the original CM Series Vol 1 and I was so surprised by what I read. What I read in CM’s Vol 1 tells me there is more to it than I had understood up to that point.
CM VOL 1: Method of Lesson.––In every case the reading should be consecutive from a well-chosen book. Before the reading for the day begins, the teacher should talk a little (and get the children to talk) about the last lesson, with a few words about what is to be read, in order that the children may be animated by expectation; but she should beware of explanation and, especially, of forestalling the narrative. Then, she may read two or three pages, enough to include an episode; after that, let her call upon the children to narrate,––in turns, if there be several of them. They not only narrate with spirit and accuracy, but succeed in catching the style of their author. It is not wise to tease them with corrections; they may begin with an endless chain of ‘ands,’ but they soon leave this off, and their narrations become good enough in style and composition to be put in a ‘print book’! This sort of narration lesson should not occupy more than a quarter of an hour. The book should always be deeply interesting, and when the narration is over, there should be a little talk in which moral points are brought out, pictures shown to illustrate the lesson, or diagrams drawn on the blackboard. As soon as children are able to read with ease and fluency, they read their own lesson, either aloud or silently, with a view to narration; but where it is necessary to make omissions, as in the Old Testament narratives and Plutarch’s Lives, for example, it is better that the teacher should always read the lesson which is to be narrated.
Now I see narration as a three part process: The first part: The teacher (mom) should talk a little……about last lesson. Second part : There is the reading and narration. Third part: There should be a little talk……, pictures shown, etc….(see above) So you could actually say that we are in partnership with our dc and if we want them to be a natural at narration and get the most out of it, we must do our part which I have just described.
Reading CM’s own explanation of narration was huge to me, it really made an impact. I think the talk before hand refreshes there memory on the last reading of the book and it should entice them towards the reading about to take place and then the last part is just another opportunity to make an impression on the dc, to make what they read come alive more, to even make it stick more and it’s another opportunity for them to make connections in the things around them (life) past and present through History, Science, Art and more.
I see narration as a process that doesn’t just rest on the child’s shoulders but a process that the mom (teacher) and the child (student) journey through together.
Check out the entire section on Narration from Charlotte Mason’s Volume 1