Saturday, 6 December 2008


There is one dilemma I have frequently with my children watching tv - should I watch it with them? There are all sorts of times for them to watch the box: sometimes it is a movie we all watch together and eat pop-corn. If I am feeling very 'educational' I will stop the film every so often to point something out or to ask an illuminating, or irritating, question. Sometimes, they will watch a nature documentary or a videoed episode of 'Blue Peter' while I chat with a friend and I don't want to be disturbed. And then there's the middle-ground. Sometimes I would quite like to watch with them, I am interested in the programme myself, but I am very busy and need some space to catch up. Sometimes I am exhausted and I let the tv babysit and worry that I am neglecting them. Sometimes I want to watch so that I can converse intelligently with then about what they have seen, this was my reason for watching "The Phantom Menace".

However, I have been reminded of the value of Narration, a Charlotte Mason idea. My friend was telling me how last week my middle son explained the plot of one of the Star Wars films off and on over a 2 hour period with interjections from my little girl. It struck me that this is narration in practice. On occasions I have made a point of sitting down with my children after an episode of 'Blue Peter' and asking them all about it. If I haven't seen the programme, we have to work together as I ask questions and try to grasp their explanations and they struggle to find the best way to let me know. Of course, if I have seen it, the exercise becomes forced, dry and 'teachery'. While it takes commitment on my part to find time with them after they have watched, I can see many benefits of this: helping them remember and think through what they have seen and heard, as well as the language skills needed to explain something clearly and the team skills to share out who tells what.

I can also see this skill having its uses in sorting out sibling disputes ...

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