Sometimes, narration gets overlooked by the mothers of young children. It is such an important skill, though - listening, comprehension, vocabulary, speaking, attention to detail... It should not be ignored or overlooked, and it's such a simple thing at this young age, that you may already be practicing this without realizing it!
Tonight, while my 4 year old son, Titus, was bathing, I sang with him the song of Zacchaeus (the wee little man). Afterward, I told him the story of Zacchaeus in about twenty sentences. I didn't talk down to him, but I did use age-appropriate words with plenty of details. I didn't ask for a narration, but when I got through telling the story, I sang it again. After I sang it the second time, Titus proceeded to narrate the story to me without prompting. He used about five sentences, including several details I told him. Some of the sentences he repeated word-for-word from my story. I was impressed.
Here are a few ideas and tips for practicing narration with young children:
- Read to them while they are somewhat still - in the tub, in the bed, while they're eating.
- Read Bible stories, poetry, nursery rhymes, and classics. Read magazines, newspaper articles, and your own books aloud - not directly to your young child, but within earshot.
- Retell stories you remember - it will show that you also use narration in your everyday life and that is is a useful skill.
- Do not use a baby-voice or baby words when telling a story or reading a book. You may simplify some words if you feel necessary, but do not talk down to your child.
- Don't ask what your child remembers - ask, "Could you tell me the story now?" When your child feels like you are interested in being told a story, they are more likely to include details and make it interesting.
- If your child needs prompting, you can prompt them. Try not to ask a question, but say something like, "And then the little boy..." leaving your child room to finish the sentence and perhaps continue with his narration in more detail than he originally intended.
- Don't make it feel like something he has to do after ever story, every book, every nursery rhyme. Choose maybe one or two times a day for narration (assuming you read quite often to your child).
- Try to say something positive after your child's narration. "You remembered exactly what happened in the story." "I love how you described the grandmother's coat." "I am so glad you included how Timmy felt when he lost his dog."
How do you practice narration with your young children?