Charlotte Mason Volume I Part V:IX-X

IX. The art of narrating

Children narrate all the time, quite naturally. They tell in great detail about things they have seen and done that are interesting to them. We should listen to their tales when they want to narrate. We should not pressure them to tell anything.

At the age of six, the parent-teacher can begin narration lessons. Read, just once, an episode from a good book — a fairy tale, something from the Bible, a story about people in another land, etc. Don’t stop the reading in order to make comments or ask questions. Afterward, ask the child to tell back what he has heard. Don’t make corrections to the narration, don’t prod for more.

Lessons should be consecutive from the same book. Before reading, the parent and child may talk just a little about the previous day’s lesson and perhaps say something short to introduce the new day’s lesson, being careful not to explain — let the child get the meaning for himself. After the narration, the parent may continue with discussing any moral lessons, illustrating the lesson with pictures or diagrams, and so on.

Fifteen minutes is a good amount of time for such a lesson between 6 and 9.

X. Writing

In the beginning, use chalk and chalkboard, so that the child can erase and try again until she is satisfied with the perfection of the shapes she has made. Spend no more than five or ten minutes a day on writing practice. Focus on producing one perfect letter or group of letters, instead of a whole page of misshapen letters. Let her begin with large letters — it is easier to avoid bad habits and develop good ones this way.

Use copywork — give her a single line of something beautiful, and let her reproduce it. When moving from print to cursive, be sure to choose a cursive style that is beautiful — don’t worry so much about economy of forms, but about how beautiful the resulting script is. For older children, copywork can involve longer portions.


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