Homeschooling offers a unique opportunity to tailor your child’s education to their individual needs and strengths. One powerful and time-tested technique that homeschooling parents can incorporate into their teaching toolbox is narration. Narration is a simple yet incredibly effective method that not only aids in the comprehension of subjects but also enhances communication skills, critical thinking, and retention. We’ve used it for years in our homeschooling and as our kids have gotten older they naturally do this as adults, with books and movies that they’ve been reading or watching. They’ll share highlights, insights and connections; at a much more advanced level than when they were younger, to be sure. The word might seem intimidating, but it’s really not that complex and it’s a fantastic educational tool.
Understanding Narration’s Role in Learning
Narration, in its essence, involves having a child tell you what they’ve learned in their own words. This process encourages active engagement with the material, causing kids remember themes and details, fostering deeper understanding. Unlike passive learning methods, narration requires students to process information, extract key points, and articulate them coherently.
Why Narration Matters
Comprehension: Narration prompts students to process information at a meaningful level. As they retell a story, explain a concept, or summarize a lesson, they begin to grasp the subject matter in a more thorough way.
Critical Thinking: Narration encourages analytical thinking. Narration causes children to organize their thoughts, identify important details, and draw connections between ideas, cultivating their ability to think critically about the material. Good writing, and good speaking, is good thinking. So, students who narrate to an engaged and interested adult, who can guide them with good questions, develops critical thinking and executive functioning skills. That’s a big win from one simple conversation!
Communication Skills: Expressing thoughts verbally or in writing hones communication skills. Narration promotes the development of vocabulary, sentence structure, and coherent articulation. Narration requires students to actively engage with another person with give and take conversation.
Retention: The act of narrating information reinforces memory. When students actively engage with what they’ve learned, they are more likely to remember it over the long term.
Personal Connection: Narration allows children to make the subject matter their own. It empowers them to relate the material to their own experiences, enhancing their sense of ownership over their education. Narration allows the student to engage with the aspects of the lesson that make sense to them, to connect with other meaningful experiences. It’s guided and also organize.
Not Sure Where to Start? We’ve got you!
The 5 Common Topics can be super helpful when you are just getting started with personal, interactive education. This simple, easy to use Ebooks provides you with real examples using a variety of subjects and learning styles! Use across grade levels and subject areas to help students take ownership for their education!
Incorporating Narration into Your Homeschool
Choose Appropriate Material: Start with manageable portions of material. This could be a short story, a lesson from a textbook, or a chapter from a book. As your child becomes comfortable, gradually increase the complexity. Younger and less experienced students should start out with simple, short lessons.
Active Listening: Encourage your child to pay close attention to the material. After reading or discussing it, ask them to recount the main points or the sequence of events.
Variety in Expression: Mix up the types of narration. Encourage spoken narration, where your child verbally retells what they’ve learned. Additionally, incorporate written narration exercises, fostering writing skills.
Open-Ended Questions: Instead of asking yes-or-no questions, prompt your child with open-ended questions that require them to think critically. For instance, “What was the most important lesson in the story?” or “How would you have handled the situation differently?” “What would you have done if you had been in their shoes?” “How does this initial even affect the outcome of the story” etc.
Create a Comfortable Environment: Make narration a comfortable and positive experience. With narration, there is no right or wrong answer. But you also want to encourage your studnet to actively engage with the material, wrestle with confusing concepts and catch major themes, people and events.
Use Narration as Assessment: Narration can be a valuable tool for assessing your child’s understanding. It provides insights into their grasp of the material and areas that may need further attention.
As you can see this is a versatile and effective technique that complements the homeschooling environment beautifully. By incorporating narration into your teaching methodology, you’re not only enhancing your child’s understanding of subjects but also nurturing vital communication skills and critical thinking abilities. As a homeschooling parent, you have the privilege of witnessing firsthand the growth and development that narration brings to your child’s education journey. So, embrace the power of narration and watch your child’s learning flourish in ways that extend far beyond the confines of a traditional classroom.
Latin,Math, and Music are the three universal languages. In other words, they transcend the cultural barrier and speak to people regardless of what language they were raised with. It’s a great time to be learning all three and if your homeschool doesn’t integrate them into your program already, now it is the time! Students who understand the three universal languages have more tools in their toolbox as they interact and communicate with the world!
Universal Language: Math
Math is symbolic and defines shapes, space, time, volume, and concepts. As you can see math concepts go way beyond a simple math text. You don’t need to share a language to share the beauty and simplicity of math. Students do need math to cook, build, create, shop, and so much more.
Universal Language: Music
Music is evocative but also keeps time, allowing us to understand something basic or complex with emotion, cadence, and rhythm. The beauty of music allows us to respond to each other and the universe despite ability, age, reason, or language. We all know that music can reduce anxiety and stress, refocus our energy, and helps us memorize and hold on to memories.
Universal Lanuage: Latin
Latin because it is the basis of western culture and the root of so many romance languages. The Ancient world was governed by this fascinating language it and it was integral to the formation of western culture. This fascinating language teaches your kids critical thinking skills, vocabulary and so much more!
Latin, Math & Music: Simplify Your Homeschool Journey!
It can be easy to get overwhelmed with the plethora of choices available. Homeschooling offers an abundance of riches that can offer us so many possibilities, but also decision fatigue! You do not need to feel lost and burdened by how much you could do; take heart and simplify! Focusing on Math, Music, and Latin would allow you to provide a superior education to your kids! Personally, I would add in some fantastic Bible studies, and you would be golden!
Create a Plan, Get a Homeschool Partner
Like me, you might not have considered these three subjects as actual languages and it is a bit of a paradigm shift to think of them as such. Doing so allows us to see the importance and beauty of each, and gives us a great apologetic for spending the time, money, and resources needed to really dive in with all three of them.
What is Classical, Christian education? Does it mean studying history? Reading boring old books? Is it only for SUPER SMART students? Six years ago, God gave me a passion for classical, Christian education, and during that time, I have shared the model with many, many families.
The classical, Christian education model is a simple, time-tested model that focuses on training the skills to learn anything, and nurtures the whole person to fulfill their calling as man-made in the image of a sovereign God, set apart for His glory, in this life and the next.
Three Attributes of Classical, Christian Education
Three main attributes of classical, Christian education discussed here are skill-based learning, the interrelatedness of all subjects to all other subjects, and the recognition of the value of man, who is made in the image of God for a purpose. There are other attributes of a classical, Christian education model, but these three provide a backbone for it.
Classical education is skill-based.
These skills are collectively referred to as “The Trivium”, a Latin word meaning three ways. The three ways are three stages of learning and development, each with its own tools: the grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric stages.
The first stage is the grammar stage. It starts at birth and developmentally extends until around age 11. In this stage, students are learning vocabulary, facts, and principles of any subject in the world around them in a rote fashion. Their understanding may be very limited at first, but they are becoming familiar with the world they encounter. Students in this stage learn best by exploring, experiencing, observing, repetition, memorization, and dramatization.
The second stage, naturally occurring from around ages 11 – 14, is the dialectic or logic stage. At this point, the student develops a drive to understand and relate one to another all the experiences and facts they have and continue to collect. This stage is characterized as a time of questions, challenging authority, and starting to rely on their own thinking. Students at this stage benefit from learning to ask good questions, reason logically, and debate ideas respectfully.
Finally, around age 14 students who have been trained to think well, will begin to emerge from the dialectic stage into the rhetoric stage. At this point, students can use their knowledge and skills to creatively relate information in new ways while practicing communicating information eloquently and winsomely. To learn new things they will delve back into the grammar and dialectic stages briefly, to learn the facts and process the information, but will be able to efficiently bring that information into a relationship with the other information they know hold, and continue to communicate their ideas.
Stages and Tools of Classical Education
The stages and tools of the Trivium function like a computer. The grammar stage is input, the dialectic stage is processing, and the rhetorical stage is output. Once a student has the skills from these three areas, they can spend a lifetime processing any and all information they encounter through their own “computer”, a working understanding of the tools of the Trivium.
While it may look like one has to be super smart to do well with a classical, Christian education model, the reverse is actually true: the classical, Christian education model goes with the grain of student development and is effective at equipping students with the skills they need to learn and understand anything in a faster, easier, and better way.
Developmentally Appropriate Skill Development is Fruitful
Often, in modern education, we see mismatches between assignments and developmental stages that create frustration. Examples would be: asking a first grader to break apart math problems and relate different strategies to the same problem, asking the grade-schooler to invent something meaningful, asking a twelve-year-old to take a well-reasoned stand on a social justice issue, asking a high school student to memorize a bunch of facts with no need for application.
While there are always exceptions, and students may enter a stage early in an area of gifting, mostly mismatches like these needlessly create frustration and confusion that ultimately can drive students to think either too much of their own abilities or more often not enough. Teaching the students skills that correspond with their developmental stage, and that are effective for learning, should reduce frustration and create confidence in learning.
An Interrelated World
After planting our roots in the model of the Trivium, classical, Christian education is focused on understanding the inter-relatedness of all subjects. Since we believe that all of heaven and earth was created by one, sovereign God, it comes to make sense that all subjects would be interrelated in some way.
A Modern Education
A modern education student might be accustomed to being the center of a paradigm that asks them to learn math, then reading, then bible study, then history, and is interested in their reaction to those individual subjects, often independent of all else. In a Christian, classical education the student is removed from the center of the model, and God is rightly reflected as the center of all creation, all knowledge, informing us about all things, and all things reflecting back information on Him.
The Classical Model of Education
The classical, Christian model continually asks one to consider how each subject relates to all other subjects. Contemplating how the arts relate to the sciences, or how history relates to literature, will produce insights that studying either discipline alone would not likely produce. Likewise, taking a single topic, for example, the topic of water, and considering how it is represented in science, art, music, math, or history, and how those representations connect one to another, will deepen understanding of all parts of that analysis.
One may even choose specific concerns to compare and relate: How is water conservation policy at your local river related to artistic freedom? How is popular music related to current events? How is the founding of Rome related to your curriculum decision? How does man relate to God? How does the Old Testament relate to the New Testament? How does a leader today relate to a leader in the past? When you practice finding the connections and relationships between points like this, you will find these questions lead to ideas that lead to other questions, and each will continually reveal layers of understanding about the world around you.
The Value of Man
As Christians we believe that man was created by God, in His image, to glorify Him. The world and everything in it, is to be brought into submission to this purpose. While modern education is focused on science and the material world, classical, Christian education recognizes the physical world as well as the heart, mind, and soul, and that we live in with the tension and promise of a transcendent reality, beyond what our five senses can detect.
While modern education looks for the new, useful, and profitable, classical, Christian education considers what is good, true, and beautiful. While modern education considers man without meaning, nothing more than a primate with skills, a random, chance occurrence in nature, classical, Christian education knows that man is made for a purpose and can grow in wisdom, and virtue in order to further fulfill that purpose.
How does classical, Christian education achieve these lofty, yet abstract goals?
Thankfully, this world has a long history of men and women considering these ideas in thought, word, and deed, and a modern student can join in The Great Conversation by reading classic literature and studying history. The term “The Great Conversation” represents the ongoing process of writers and thinkers referencing, building on, and refining the works of their predecessors.
All the tools and skills of the classical, Christian model come together in The Great Conversation and work together to give one opportunities to refine their discernment of truth, goodness, and beauty, building wisdom and virtue. This is, of course, a lifetime journey, not necessarily a destination we fully arrive at in this life. The constant refining of our reason and understanding, never being left stuck in as a prisoner to our selfish small world, is the true gift of a classical, Christian education.
(Interested in pursuing a Classical Homeschool Education for your child? Check out our course offerings at True North Homeschool Academy.)
The classical, Christian education model uses the stages and skills of the Trivium, a vision for an inter-connected worldview, unified by one, sovereign God, creator of all things, and the knowledge that man is made in the image of God, to glorify Him in this world in the next, in order develop the whole person, able to participate in all this world and the next has to offer. A classical, Christian education is for those who are interested in quality over quantity, timeless versus fleeting, and eternity versus the present moment.
By Natalie Micheel
Natalie lives in South Dakota with her husband and two awesome kids. She has now homeschooled for over 10 years with Christian, classical and literature-based paradigms, including teaching for and leading faith-based homeschool groups locally. Natalie speaks locally on all things classical, Christian ed. She loves sharing the classical model and the hope and joy of homeschooling your own children with the next generation of homeschool mamas! Natalie enjoys speaking and teaching and thinking, as well as reading and writing and dreaming. She finds particular satisfaction in working with tweens and teens and moms to inspire them towards the good, true and beautiful, and walking beside them as they learn to equip themselves to fulfill their callings in this world.