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Memoria Press vs. Veritas Press literature guides


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This is our first year homeschooling, and when I was looking at curriculum back in January, I was drawn to Memoria Press.  I think because they were packaged so prettily.  But also, I really loved their literature questions.  They were really deep, comprehensive, just the sort of questions I would have loved to have had made out for me to teach my high school students back when I taught high school.  But I think that's the problem.  I try asking my little KG and 1st grader some of the questions about the reading selection (and, so far, I really like the reading selections from Memoria Press), and their eyes just glaze over and give me a look like, "Mommy, what are you SAYING????"  and then my son just jumps up and runs off (he's the 5 year old).  SOOOOOO, while I apparently love those questions for older kids, my kids are just not there yet, I don't think.  Back when I was deciding on curriculum, I was torn between Veritas Press and Memoria, so after that experience with the read aloud comprehension questions, I went back to have a second look at VP lit guides...and LOVED them (I think???).  Anyway, they seemed to be just the sort of simple questions that my two needed, with no deep thinking involved.  

So...give me your opinions, please.  Which do you ladies prefer?  What are the drawbacks that I'm not seeing?  Thank you!!

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How about neither??  Why do K and 1st graders need literature guides?  How about just enjoying great stories while snuggling on the couch?  Asking natural questions or talking about things that interest them about the story while reading?  And, ignoring a provider's literature selections and just reading the books you want to read?

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1 minute ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

How about neither??  Why do K and 1st graders need literature guides?  How about just enjoying great stories while snuggling on the couch?  Asking natural questions or talking about things that interest them about the story while reading?  And, ignoring a provider's literature selections and just reading the books you want to read?

Good point.  I suppose because all the boxed curriculum I've looked at so far has "literature guides" to as they claim, help with reading comprehension.  As I've never taught little ones to read, I don't want to miss anything, so I assumed that I needed a literature guide to help them comprehend what they read?  

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Just now, AngelaR said:

Good point.  I suppose because all the boxed curriculum I've looked at so far has "literature guides" to as they claim, help with reading comprehension.  As I've never taught little ones to read, I don't want to miss anything, so I assumed that I needed a literature guide to help them comprehend what they read?  

Absolutely not.  Boxed curriculums tend to try to replicate traditional school at home.  Homeschooling does not need to replicate a classroom at all.  (Our homeschool looks absolutely nothing like a classroom education.) Honestly, I have never used a literature guide as printed in 27 yrs of homeschooling, and I can count on 1 hand the number of literature programs that I have used.  For some of our more complex lit selections in high school, I find resources to guide our understanding (like Great Courses lectures for The Divine Comedy).  Homeschooling is not replicating traditional school.  You can have conversations with your kids to determine their comprehension.  You do not need a guide or worksheets to do the evaluation for you.

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I don’t think you need literature guides for the ages of your kids. Just read them good books. Looks at the book lists for Memoria Press, Sonlight, Read Aloud Revival (RAR).  RAR has a podcast episode (a couple years ago) and it’s probably  mentioned in her book “The Read Aloud Family” how to talk about books with your kids. 
 

Welcome to homeschooling!

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1 minute ago, Æthelthryth the Texan said:

Agree with these suggestions and will throw in Before Five in a Row or Five in a Row. 

I know what it's like to be afraid of missing and want to buy something (btdt), but most of the boxed sets at the K-2 age are way over the top. 

Five in a Row is fantastic at the ages of your children. I didn’t discover it until my third child, but we really enjoyed it. 

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Agreeing with previous posters. Ditch the formal lit. guides until the late middle school/high school years! Your job in the early learning years is to foster a love of wonderful books by lots of read-alouds, and in a year or three, as the child learns to read, do reading together "popcorn" style ("you read a page, I read a page"). As you and your children see something you want to talk about in the midst, go for it! But don't belabor it. And DON'T kill the love of reading and of books by turning it in to "school work". 😩🤮

Kinder and 1st grade are WONDERFUL years for exploration and discovery, for delight-directed learning, loads of read-alouds, and lots and lots of imaginative play. Those are the activities that naturally build up a child's thinking and problem-solving and critical thinking skills so that later on in the middle/high school years they have great brain development and a foundation for analysis. Gently -- save those analysis questions for when your children have developed the ability to do analysis -- in about 7-8 years. 😉 

All that said... Welcome to homeschooling! Wishing you all a joyful, fun, and exciting adventure together this year! Warmest regards, Lori D.

Edited by Lori D.
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Really really really can't say enough about the very real possibility of killing the love of reading. Lots of kids are given "rigorous" programs that boast about the difficult books they include and the "in depth" literature guides, but those kids frequently do the reading like they do their math and grammar. They associate reading with school they have to do. Ultimately it can be counterproductive, because a kid who really loves devouring fun books just for fun will read longer and more, and get all those benefits. 

I remember one mom I know IRL who uses a difficult, packed curriculum was complaining that her daughter in 4th grade absolutely refused to do her literature program anymore, wouldn't read the books or do the assignments, and wouldn't read anything else either. She said she hated reading. This mom saw it as a discipline problem and decided to just push through as a battle of wills. It was so sad. I wanted to just tell her to stop! Give that girl some graphic novels and Dog Man and just let her get the love back, and when she does it for fun, in a few years you can steer her toward the Bronte sisters, but get that love back. 

I love some MP products, but my big issue with the MP forum is they act like it's totally ok to take the fun out of learning, and will actively assert that real learning shouldn't be "fun," it should be only "joyful" which is the joy of learning hard things, even when it's not at all fun and the kids complain. Well I totally disagree and my kids really have fun reading, they love school and have fun with it. And we still do hard things. 

That's a very long winded way of saying, enjoy a light approach in the early years, and have fun with it. There will be time for that stuff later. Do some five in a row, make memories around books, listen to Sarah Mackenzie, love on your kids.

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I'm in the just read category too. Read piles of good books. Have them read to you as they're able. 

If you'd like to learn more about literary analysis and such in addition to the WTM book, check out the audio files at WTM shop. 🙂https://welltrainedmind.com/c/resources-for-parents/workshops-seminars/?v=7516fd43adaa

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1 hour ago, SilverMoon said:

I'm in the just read category too. Read piles of good books. Have them read to you as they're able. 

If you'd like to learn more about literary analysis and such in addition to the WTM book, check out the audio files at WTM shop. 🙂https://welltrainedmind.com/c/resources-for-parents/workshops-seminars/?v=7516fd43adaa

Thanks for this link.  I didn't know these were on the website.  They look like good information.  

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Maybe can I edit my original question with more of a "what are some good activity guides to go along with the books we're reading?"  I realized half way through reading the answers here that perhaps my inner high school teacher had come out too much in my question.  Thank you, though, for all the admonishment to go slow, and just enjoy these little years.  I'm so looking forward to the times when we can really dive into history (I was a high school history teacher) and read literature with them that I just skimmed through back in high school, it's hard to remember that my primary job right now is to help them love learning.  I guess I had a great teacher who did that, because, while I don't necessarily remember anything special my K and 1st grade teachers did, I remember just LOVING school.  It's hard to remember I have to help facilitate that as their teacher.  So...besides FIAR, which I'll look into more thoroughly, any other suggestions for curriculum that has good activities to go along with the books we're reading?  Memoria Press isn't too bad as far as that goes, with their Science and SS read aloud and enrichment activities.  Maybe I'll just keep trudging along with that, but throw out all the high level questions...

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FIAR has plenty activities, but if you are doing history with your kids and using Story of the World, there is an activity book for that too. We did more activities with Ancients than in later years. Your kids are at great ages to do lots of fun things, but the thing we did most when my kids were little was leave the afternoons open to play. 
 

I know your original question was specific to literature, but are you using Memoria for all your subjects? I don’t want you to think we are all telling you to start all over with something different, Memoria puts out great products.


Also, do you plan to homeschool long term or are you crisis schooling for this year only? If your plan right now is to homeschool only this year, the advise we give may be slightly different. 

 

 

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Based on your second post, I am assuming you are planning on homeschooling long term??  Can be really difficult for former teachers to let go of the idea of a classroom.  Homeschooling does not need to resemble traditional classroom education at all.  I have been homeschooling since 1994 when our oldest was in K.  I had to let go of all of my preconceived notions of how to educate children.  Once I embraced the freedom that homeschooling provided, homeschooling became a lifestyle vs "school."  My kids soared.  The focus switched to nurturing their internal motivation by studying things they were interested in instead of studying ______.  

Your kids are the perfect ages to let their interests direct what you do every day.  It doesn't need to be dictated by ANY curriculum provider.  It can be whatever you want it to be.  If they want to learn about bees, read about bees, watch bee documentaries. Or snakes or dinosaurs or space, etc....  If they want to read about pirates or knights or pyramids....you can.  Build models, put on plays/dress-ups, etc.  It is what you make it.  There is absolutely NOTHING you can do to mess up K or 1st grade.  If you give them a couple of options to choose from, you might be surprised by what the decide.  As you study things, you might find rabbit trails to follow and as you go off the well-beaten path, you might find even more interesting topics to study.

FWIW, by following my kids' lead, I have been constantly amazed at where we have gone.  I have had a dd who graduated from high school with 15 foreign language credits, a ds who graduated from high school having completed 4 math classes post cal BC and 5 in major physics classes, etc.  I have graduated 6 kids from our homeschool (2 more still at home, 5th and 9th graders).  Not one of them has received the same education as another b/c everything has been able to be directed by their individual needs and interests.  

Most of all, at their ages, have FUN!  Sparking interests will last their lifetimes.

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2 hours ago, AngelaR said:

Maybe can I edit my original question with more of a "what are some good activity guides to go along with the books we're reading?"
... So besides FIAR, which I'll look into more thoroughly, any other suggestions for curriculum that has good activities to go along with the books we're reading?

Lit. guides tend to have a lot of "fill in the blank questions" rather than activities. If needing to start off with some "hand-holding", Five in a Row is great; otherwise I'd just do online searches for "activities to go with ____(name of book)____".

But, really, besides FIAR, I'd recommend that together with your children, be brave and "go off-road" with your literature studies. 😉 By that I mean, if you read a picture book or longer book that really captures their interest, then:
- enjoy the sequel to the book, or another book by the same author/illustrator
- get a book that goes deeper into the aspect that especially was of interest
- or do an online search for "1st grade activity about __________"
- or have fun drawing your own illustrations for the book that captured their interest
- or together write your own sequel to the book -- children dictate it to you, and you type it up/print it out and they illustrate their own book
- or watch episodes of Reading Rainbow, and get ideas for extension activities from the "extras" around the primary book read
- or... 😉 

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3 hours ago, Rachel said:

FIAR has plenty activities, but if you are doing history with your kids and using Story of the World, there is an activity book for that too. We did more activities with Ancients than in later years. Your kids are at great ages to do lots of fun things, but the thing we did most when my kids were little was leave the afternoons open to play. 
 

I know your original question was specific to literature, but are you using Memoria for all your subjects? I don’t want you to think we are all telling you to start all over with something different, Memoria puts out great products.


Also, do you plan to homeschool long term or are you crisis schooling for this year only? If your plan right now is to homeschool only this year, the advise we give may be slightly different. 

 

 

Great questions, thank you Rachel.  I'm not crisis homeschooling;  we decided to HS both kids this year because my rising KG was SO NOT ready for the public school KG here in Illinois.  And my current 1st grade DD was hating public school KG.  So, back in January, I decided to homeschool.  And, we're only doing MP for the Read Alouds, with the Enrichment Book and the Science and Social Studies activities, as well as the music, Art posters and poems.  I WAS all excited for the recitation, because that would make my kids so smart...hahaha!  That so doesn't fly the way MP directs us to do it!!!  So we do as best we can over breakfast, or on bike rides, and I've discovered that memorizing things with my kids is so much more pleasant with songs...so I'm now looking heavily at Veritas Press for next year, because they have so many songs to help memorize.  Also, for my 1st grader, we'll be doing the Memoria Press reading/literature books...I don't know...the ones SHE is supposed to read (like Little Bear, Frog and Toad, Billy and Blaze, Stone Soup, etc.), and that's what I'm wanting help for as well as just venting about the thinking questions found in the Enrichment Guide that go with the Read Alouds.  After I had already bought the reading books, I began second guessing my need for the accompanying Activity Guides/Storytime Treasures, and just decided not to get them.  But, I was under the impression that I would need something to help her figure out what she's reading.  Or do some cutesy activity for each story, I don't know.  And I don't want to have to create it all myself, I had enough of doing that with my high school students back in my teaching days.  

As for long term, we are unsure.  I would love to homeschool them until about high school, depending on what our school options are (we are military and never know where the next assignment will be).  But...we'll see how this year goes with them.  

Edited by AngelaR
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1 hour ago, Lori D. said:

If needing to start off with some "hand-holding", Five in a Row is great; otherwise I'd just do online searches for "activities to go with ____(name of book)____".

But, really, besides FIAR, I'd recommend that together with your children, be brave and "go off-road" with your literature studies. 😉 By that I mean, if you read a picture book or longer book that really captures their interest, then:
- enjoy the sequel to the book, or another book by the same author/illustrator
- get a book that goes deeper into the aspect that especially was of interest
- or do an online search for "1st grade activity about __________"
- or have fun drawing your own illustrations for the book that captured their interest
- or together write your own sequel to the book -- children dictate it to you, and you type it up/print it out and they illustrate their own book
- or watch episodes of Reading Rainbow, and get ideas for extension activities from the "extras" around the primary book read
- or... 😉 

Definitely need some hand-holding!!!  Thank you for the superb ideas!  I really appreciate you guys helping me see a bit more of the freedom in homeschooling than I'd seen before.   

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You might also find it helpful to keep in mind how little time it takes to homeschool those ages.  K and 1st can be completed in less than 2 hrs.  (I typically spend about 1 hr per grade level on academics with possibly an extra 30 mins or so.  So, 1st is about an hr to an hour and a half.  5th is about 5 to 5  1/2 hrs.  Middle school is about 6-8 hrs and high school is about 7-9 hrs.)

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^^^ Agreeing with 8FillTheHeart about hours in the K-4 age range, but after that, it *really* depends on your student.

For example, neither of my DSs could have managed the amount of school hours that 8's children could starting about 5th grade -- for us, it was more like:

5th grade = 4.5 hours/day, 4 days/week (5th day for fun educational extras + homeschool support group activities)
6th grade = 4.5 - 5 hours/day, 4 days a week, and 1 hour on the 5th day (+ educational extras & h.s. support group)
7th/8th grades = 5 - 5.5 hours/day, 4 days a week, and 2 hours on the 5th day (+ h.s. support group)
9th-12th grades = at *best* DSs could do 6 hours, sometimes 6.5 hours/day -- with several day per month as short days for various extracurriculars

Edited by Lori D.
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I bought the Memoria Press Kindergarten box with all of the read alouds.  I absolutely love the books.  They did such a wonderful job of picking amazing books and incorporating science books to go with them.  The literature guide has been a complete dud with my kids. They don’t want to review vocabulary. They don’t want to learn about the author.  They just want to read the actual book. So we do. And then we read a bunch of other books too.  No regrets.  The books were worth the price I paid for getting the whole box.  

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MP k-2 enrichment can be completed on a loop. Your k5 & 1st can be combined in the same enrichment guide and you just cycle through it. All three levels are the same difficulty. There should be a blurb in your EG explaining that you don’t have to ask all of the questions. You can increase or decrease difficulty based on your student.
 

As for storytime treasures, yes, your first grader should be reading those books independently and answering the questions. The prereq for MP first grade is to independently read Little Bear. I’ve never used ST but I’ve heard people say it was over the top, as the books aren’t all that complex to begin with.
 

With my kinder I do a first reading of the main lit book on Monday. I briefly discuss the author and illustrator. As I read the book I encourage my kinder to ask questions about unfamiliar vocabulary. Then I highlight a few of those vocabulary words in the guide by having him act out the scene in which the word was used. 
 

Tues we do the science read alouds.

Wed is poetry tea time with the art & music enrichment. 
 

Thurs is History & culture read alouds.

On Friday I reread the main lit book and we do a picture study of our fav illustrations. While we are doing the corresponding book of crafts, I ask a few of the comprehension questions. 
 

If I find an audio or animated version of the Gail Gibbons books I use that instead. I feel like Gail can get a little lengthy for kinder. 

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I have enjoyed MP, but I think they do better starting with middle grades.  I am using the lit for 3rd grade, but I just look through the lit guide and ask questions and mostly I also just answer them, unless ds wants to answer. As the year goes on and he gets a little older he may write out 1 or 2 answers.  We will see how goes as the year goes on.  The books for 3rd grade are great and I think they do well with choosing books.  I did not like their K-1st very much.  I also wonder why they keep saying learning doesn't need to necessarily be fun.  I do think it should be as enjoyable as possible and espcecially durning the younger years.  I don't know very much about Veritas Press.

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13 hours ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

You might also find it helpful to keep in mind how little time it takes to homeschool those ages.  K and 1st can be completed in less than 2 hrs.  (I typically spend about 1 hr per grade level on academics with possibly an extra 30 mins or so.  So, 1st is about an hr to an hour and a half.  5th is about 5 to 5  1/2 hrs.  Middle school is about 6-8 hrs and high school is about 7-9 hrs.)

Yep. It takes us about 2 1/2 hours in total, with about 30-45 min of Independent play for kid A while I work with kid B. I’m a firm believer in having plenty of time in the day for them to entertain themselves playing for a large part of the day at this age. 

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On 8/25/2020 at 8:43 PM, Paradox5 said:

I have done parts of (if not whole) pretty much every core from MP Preschool to 6/7 and I can tell you my kids HATE reading and learning now.

Oh my goodness, I'm sorry! Are you planning a radical change? Is that why you're looking at Shiller? 

Have you thought about spending a year just doing reading and Genius Hour? That would probably cure anything. Tell them if they don't work a plan, you'll throw a workbook at them, hahaha. Evan Moor has a Fundamentals series that is kind of a *little* without being too much. Like it would probably be 10 minutes a day for your kids, but then they could go right back to reading and their Genius Hour projects...

https://geniushour.com/genius-hour-webinar/  The free webinar was pretty good. Might give you some ideas on how to bust out of your rut if you want something REALLY DIFFERENT.

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To follow up, what about narration, along the lines of Charlotte Mason?  Would that be more helpful at this age?  Or just as joy-sucking?  Would there be any added benefit to the kids to do that, or just read with them?  Thank you all for your experience and insight!

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18 minutes ago, AngelaR said:

To follow up, what about narration, along the lines of Charlotte Mason?  Would that be more helpful at this age?  Or just as joy-sucking?  Would there be any added benefit to the kids to do that, or just read with them?  Thank you all for your experience and insight!

Narration at that age would only be done 1x/week at most, and only with your nonfiction history or possibly science reading. It is specifically for the practice of summarizing key points, and helping children with sequencing events in order. I personally would not do narration with a child under age 7-8. And if it seems to be killing interest in the history or science, or is causing stress, I would stop immediately, and wait to try again in 6-12 months.

For literature, just enjoy reading! Conversations will arise naturally -- or not -- and either way, it's fine. Just my 2 cents worth. 😉 

 

Edited by Lori D.
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I’m glad I came back to read these comments. 😳 We’re 8 weeks into this school year and I’ve already dropped so many plans. Maybe the MP enrichment guide needs to be next. 

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56 minutes ago, AngelaR said:

To follow up, what about narration, along the lines of Charlotte Mason?  Would that be more helpful at this age?  Or just as joy-sucking?  Would there be any added benefit to the kids to do that, or just read with them?  Thank you all for your experience and insight!

I dont do formal narration. We have lots of conversations started by open-ended questions. "What did you think of that?" or "how did what happen compare to your expectations?" Or"which character is your favorite? Why?" Etc

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3 hours ago, Æthelthryth the Texan said:

I will add that my youngest really did struggle with narrating and it turned out to be a flag- it wasn't that narration was bad to ask of her, it's that she turned out to have phonological issues and the dislike/inability to narrate at age 6 was a huge red flag that let us know we needed to deal with something deeper. We were able to remediate the issue and now she's the best narrator I have in the house. 

Very good information to know.  Thank you for that heads up!

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7 hours ago, Lori D. said:

Narration at that age would only be done 1x/week at most, and only with your nonfiction history or possibly science reading. It is specifically for the practice of summarizing key points, and helping children with sequencing events in order. I personally would not do narration with a child under age 7-8. And if it seems to be killing interest in the history or science, or is causing stress, I would stop immediately, and wait to try again in 6-12 months.

Honestly, that's some weird advice. I mean, I don't mean to be disagreeable, but I guess I'm going to be. Maybe you meant some caveats, like *written* narrations?

https://mindwingconcepts.com/pages/methodology  Narrative language is having a SURGE in intervention and therapy because they now realize the DRAMATIC effect it has on writing, reading comprehension, self-advocacy, etc. The chart at this link shows developmental stages. It doesn't mark them for ages, but I think if op is actually interested and googles she'll find the norm is something like a 5 yo being able to do up through an abbreviated episode. (I don't precisely remember, but it's something like that.)

-descriptive sequence--tell some things about what it looks/smells/sounds/feels like, where it lives, etc., using adjectives and simple cohesive ties

-action sequence--tell some things about what happened, using verbs and temporal cohesive ties

-reactive sequence--adds some kind of initiating event and the reactions of the characters, includes cohesive ties and/but/or

-abbreviated episode--adds FEELINGS to the narrative, which sets them up for a cause/effect, problem solving situation, uses more complex cohesive ties like because

After that you have complete, complex, and interactive episodes.

In other words, we can look at the development of narrative and *recognize* where our kids are and what they are doing and what they are *not yet* doing. If a dc of 7 or 8 cannot give a descriptive or action sequence, that would be ASTONISHINGLY concerning. They should in fact be giving COMPLETE narratives by that age, developmentally. Waiting is not necessarily going to change that. 

The WTM assumes the user's dc will simply develop narrative language with natural prompts. Not all children do. If a dc is struggling significantly, the parent would be better off to learn about the stages of narrative language and actually intervene and teach the explicit steps to get the dc moving forward. The parent should AT LEAST be seeing it happen in real life. If the dc watches a highly preferred tv show, goes on an outing, plays with their siblings, whatever, they should be able to narrate something that shows they have developed and gone through these stages. If the parent is seeing the dc has difficulty with narrative *in real life*, they should intervene. If the dc merely has difficulty when using something like SOTW, that's fine, just change the materials. 

But no, we cannot say it's reasonable for a dc of 7 or 8 not to be able to give a an action or descriptive sequence about ANYTHING. That is not helpful. This is something SLPs now *test* and do intervention for, because it has such dramatic effect  on reading comprehension, writing, and self-advocacy.

I have lost the flow of the thread, so I don't know if any of that applies to op specifically. I'm exclusively ranting on narrative language development and why it's essential NOT to wait to intervene if kids are showing clinical levels of difficulty.  

Edited by PeterPan
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6 hours ago, Æthelthryth the Texan said:

We were able to remediate the issue and now she's the best narrator I have in the house. 

You rock! That's my dream with ds, sigh. Well actually it has never been my dream or hope, haha. I should HAVE that dream, lol. Name it and claim it or something, lol.

For op, difficulties with narration and narrative language development can occur for a variety of reasons. It could just be attention and immaturity and their minds drifting. Their vocabulary might be low or they're not visualizing, both of which would affect comprehension. But it can translate into something that needs specific instruction. And it's a known progression, with known charts, not mysterious or happen stance at all. 

For my ds, with his ASD, his difficulty with *emotions* and the language of emotions has held up his narrative language development. It holds back his critical thinking process. We keep working, and it will come together, I hope, I assume. For my dd, it was more subtle, with the ADHD, attention, and word retrieval difficulties. I think for kids like that, just the act of providing *structure* with a graphic organizer and explicit instruction on what you're looking for can make a big difference. Not all kids need that, but it's really helpful to those who do. 

Sometimes also we shut down narrations by pairing too many skills. Scribing, providing dictation or tech options, etc. can unlocks narratives for some kids. While it's beneficial to many kids to write their narrations, for some it's just putting too many skills together at once that aren't all at the same place. So if the dc is asynchronous, ahead in some things and weaker in others, it can help to break those apart, scribe, and meet them where they are, letting that language come out.

I don't know. I've only taught two kids, but I've had to go from very ethereal (it will happen if we do it enough) to asking how we can do things SMARTER, how we can bring tasks more in reach. Some kids need more support, structure, etc. to get there. Mindwings has a TON of great stuff on their blog that is free. They've uploaded numerous helpful videos on their youtube, and they do great free webinars. 

Edited by PeterPan
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21 minutes ago, PeterPan said:

Honestly, that's some weird advice. I mean, I don't mean to be disagreeable, but I guess I'm going to be. Maybe you meant some caveats, like *written* narrations?

???? 

I was using the term "narration" in the same way in which the poster was using it, and as in the way people on these boards usually use that termformal narration, as in the formal step in the writing process ala WTM and classical education style.

Narrating, as in the informal discussion as 8FillTheHeart describes above, or the kinds of informal storytelling as narrating that you describe above are great activities (in fact, they were informal activities we also did) -- but they are not the same type of activity as the type of narration described here by SWB.

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15 hours ago, AngelaR said:

To follow up, what about narration, along the lines of Charlotte Mason?  Would that be more helpful at this age?  Or just as joy-sucking?  Would there be any added benefit to the kids to do that, or just read with them?  Thank you all for your experience and insight!

 

6 hours ago, Lori D. said:

I was using the term "narration" in the same way in which the poster was using it,

https://simplycharlottemason.com/blog/the-charlotte-mason-method-of-narration/  CM narrations are oral and only later written as the dc becomes proficient. I never really saw a great contrast between WTM and CM on this personally. Obviously I need to read my WTM harder, but it had so many mentions of acting out, drawing, etc. that to me it was the same thing, having oral narrative language development naturally leading to written.

So @AngelaR has a thread about using MP/VP guides for promoting comprehension with read alouds and says the guides were joy sucking. She then asks if CM style narrations (which are oral) would also suck the joy. In that context, to say if they're hard don't bother is missing the point. If a ⅞ yo cannot give a preschool level (3 actions, character/scene description, something) about what the picture book or chapter in a book he was just read, something is wrong Houston.

But you know, who's quibbling. I'm just giving the data. https://mindwingconcepts.com/pages/methodology  Angela asked if they're joy killing. I'm pretty infamous on the boards for my assertions over the years about things for my kids being soul sucking, creating stress, turning children into Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane with blood coming out of their pores. I'm just saying in this particular case, if an oral, CM style narration at a very basic level is hard, then you really need to go back and find out why. 

6 hours ago, Lori D. said:

but they are not the same type of activity as the type of narration described here by SWB.

Ok, it's early in the morning. :biggrin: SWB has her ideas on how to teach narration. She's an educator and someone entering the realm of ideas, so she can put them out there. But when you say what is actually the *science*, what is the professional *standard* for narrative language development, this is known stuff. SWB never goes into the actual stages of narrative language development in any of her materials. It's not her gig. So her answer, when narration is "hard" for the student" is to use shorter models. Fine, it's an answer. It's what we all do. Sounds boring as the hills to me, sounds like it confuses summarizes and narrative, but fine, that's her idea and what she has published whole books of.

But if you ask what professionals in language development would say, they would say to find where the dc is in the progression of narrative development, look at their stage, figure out what pieces are necessary to help them go forward, and help them get there. It's *in* SWB's materials in a way, but it's not as streamlined and analytical as it *could* be. But imagine that, she's an educator, not a SLP. Narrative language is seeing a surge in the therapy world, with school IEP teams realizing narrative language is KEY for reading comprehension, writing development, and self-advocacy. 

It used to be, 20 years ago, that what SWB/WTM was proclaiming was novel. Now we have narrative language goals in Common Core and widely accepted in the ps. Narrative language is now woven into major standards based writing curricula, including the 6 Traits Daily Writing that Timberdoodle includes as part of their grade leveled cores. And narrative language is widely addressed by SLPs and IEP teams. In fact, my ds has IEP goals for narrative language. Not written but ORAL narrative language. I literally won a three year legal fight for my ds' access to our state's disability scholarship with narrative language testing and by demonstrating this issue.

There is no distinction in value between oral and written narratives. That's just a matter of how any more skills were involved. EVERYONE now recognizes the importance of narrative language. What SWB blazed a trail on with her WTM/WWE is now accepted in education and the therapy world. Now whether the teachers *do* it or *understand* is a different question. But it's there and the SLPs are writing goals on it. What she brought forward has been *fleshed out* with significant research, so we now know the developmental stages and can speak to it more accurately and intervene more intentionally. What had been random (see if he can, try another book, wait, try something shorter) can now actually have intentional, systematic intervention for kids for whom it's "hard" and not happening naturally.

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7 hours ago, Lori D. said:

(in fact, they were informal activities we also did)

Yes, I think we've had very similar kids. And it's not like this needs to be some kind of critique of SWB/WTM/WWE/whatever. To me, when kids get things naturally, that's great. But even she puts it out there that her "well it's hard so shorten the model" is summarizing. 

When you add a fourth sentence to the text he’ll be summarizing, you can allow him to move to a two-sentence narration. Keep on with this process, adding one sentence to the selection to be narrated ONLY when the child is able to easily summarize the amount of information you’re currently working with.

And a summary is *not* technically a narration. Narratives, as they develop, go through stages where they don't hit the most important things. As the charts I linked showed, narratives can be focused on things the student found *interesting*. We know this and WTM leads us into this. 

To me it's just a distinction in experience and focus. We all BUILD on what the others learn. Texas is not coming into her intervention on her own, unaware of these developments. She's standing on the shoulders of the information and experiences she's seen on the boards. So if SWB were starting over (haha, her kids grown, which I sorta did with my kids 10 years apart), she would BUILD on her knowledge and FLESH OUT her outlines and analysis of how to approach things. 

You don't even HAVE to flesh things out for most kids so naturally, because it just happens. Then there are kids for whom it is less and less happening. And then there are kids who fail preschool language tests when they're 10. (mine) 

I'm saying it's time to BUILD our understanding as a board. It's not that someone was *wrong* so much as just that we can expand our outlines of how this develops, how to intervene, how to build the skills intentionally for kids for whom it's hard.

And for op, for whom this seems to be turning into a fight, don't worry, it's not. I'm just pushing an idea with someone who is a thinker. :smile: But for the question of narrations for comprehension with read alouds, YES you should be doing this!! And it's not hard. That Mindwings link I gave you had a chart. You can look at it a bit and see. https://mindwingconcepts.com/pages/methodology  So you read your picture book, chapter book, whatever, and ask for a descriptive sequence narration. You tell them upfront, before you read, what you're going to be asking for and what they should notice. You give them examples or help them think of examples of bits of things they might be about to hear so they know what they're listening for. Then you read to them. If they nail descriptive sequences, then next chapter try for an action sequence, and so on, continuing through the stages.

Children ENJOY doing what they CAN do. If narration seems "hard" the answer is to bring the task within reach. The answer to bringing it with reach is *not* simply to make the task shorter. The answer is to teach more explicitly WHAT IS EXPECTED so they can actually do it. 

 

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For me, the goal is to not make talking about the things we are doing at that age seem like drudgery but instead my goals are to foster something they look forward to doing.  It is easy to ask leading questions with enthusiasm and a true desire to know what they think. Our questions can spark enthusiasm and a desire in them to share their POV/perspective.  Leading questions can also get them to dig in deeper in their contemplations than they might do on their own. I do not believe that kids need to formally narrate to benefit from the process.  Nor do I believe that formal narration is necessary to highlight LDs.   (Nor do I believe the default perspective to interacting with kids should always be to assume some LD is lurking in the background.)

OP, my 5th grader and I are currently reading a book on Ben Franklin for history.  She is independently reading Robert Fulton Boy Craftsman.  We are having delightful exchanges as she and I discuss how both were so curious and attentive to details.  I don't need to ask her to formally narrate what she is reading independently nor do I need to ask her to narrate what I am reading aloud.  Simply through our interaction I can determine her level of comprehension and I can equally ask her questions that get her to stop and think before she answers.  I personally find this far more effective in training their minds to engage with ideas and what they are reading than simply narrating back factually what they have read.  Even little children can interact this way.  You can ask questions about characters, about pictures in the book, about images, etc.  Lots of ways to interact with stories than simply repeating back what was read.

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4 hours ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

For me, the goal is to not make talking about the things we are doing at that age seem like drudgery but instead my goals are to foster something they look forward to doing.  It is easy to ask leading questions with enthusiasm and a true desire to know what they think. Our questions can spark enthusiasm and a desire in them to share their POV/perspective.  Leading questions can also get them to dig in deeper in their contemplations than they might do on their own. I do not believe that kids need to formally narrate to benefit from the process.  Nor do I believe that formal narration is necessary to highlight LDs...

...  Simply through our interaction I can determine her level of comprehension and I can equally ask her questions that get her to stop and think before she answers.  I personally find this far more effective in training their minds to engage with ideas and what they are reading than simply narrating back factually what they have read.  Even little children can interact this way.  You can ask questions about characters, about pictures in the book, about images, etc.  Lots of ways to interact with stories than simply repeating back what was read...

Exactly!
 

4 hours ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

...She is independently reading Robert Fulton Boy Craftsman.  We are having delightful exchanges...

And, may I just say, we LOVED that book! 😍

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5 hours ago, PeterPan said:

https://simplycharlottemason.com/blog/the-charlotte-mason-method-of-narration/  CM narrations are oral and only later written as the dc becomes proficient...

...I'm just saying in this particular case, if an oral, CM style narration at a very basic level is hard, then you really need to go back and find out why...

Thanks for clarifying. 🙂

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On 8/21/2020 at 8:40 PM, AngelaR said:

Good point.  I suppose because all the boxed curriculum I've looked at so far has "literature guides" to as they claim, help with reading comprehension.  As I've never taught little ones to read, I don't want to miss anything, so I assumed that I needed a literature guide to help them comprehend what they read?  

Understand that in the days when schools taught phonics instead of sight reading, there was no need to teach "reading comprehension." That's something that came into practice in the 50s when sight reading pushed out phonics. As long as you are using a good phonics method, your children will comprehend what they read.

Now, there are things you can teach your children along the way, such as cause and effect, foreshadowing, how to skim for information, and so on, but you can do that with anything; you don't have to have literature guides for reading comprehension. Also, I'm not completely opposed to guides for older children, as it can be a way to introduce them to a book or a genre that they might not have read on their own. But never for "reading comprehension."

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If you want to do things to go along with the story: read something like Little House in the Big Woods.  Make cottage cheese and butter, try sewing, see if you can plait straw, make hasty pudding with maple syrup, make sour dough bread, go to a museum or watch something.  Find another book and see where that takes you.  I would have loved to do more of that stuff but I am a single working mother who was thrust into homeschooling a seriously upset child with ASD and if I sit down I tend to fall asleep.

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I'm not sure how helpful this would be, but I recently wrote an article about Charlotte Mason style narration and young children. I'm attaching it here, in case anyone might enjoy reading it.

I have to agree with some previous posters that a Charlotte Mason narration is very different from the style taught by SWB and other curricula writers. If I find some spare time, then maybe I could write a better post about this. I do have a number of articles about narration at my website, which may be helpful too. 

 

Narration and the Very Young.pdf

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