Wake up. Shower, Make breakfast. Pack lunches. Take my daughter to school. Go home, make dinner. After dinner I fold laundry, wipe down countertops, and jump on a zoom call to chat with friends. This is the story of my life… or at least, I think of it that way. From my eyes it seems rather repetitive and mundane. But from the eyes of my child it can be quite glamorous. This depends on how I tell the story – literally.
When I googled “Narration”, it was defined as ‘the action or process of narrative a story.’ I prefer the second definition – ‘a commentary delivered to accompany a movie, broadcast, etc.’ This is how I want to paint my days. Days filled with exciting commentary about the events I see as mundane but my child sees as part of a greater story. Why is this important you ask? Because narration is a key way to target language skills at home. The only requirement is that you talk out loud!
Narration is a super important part of language development. Kids learn new words and routines through narration. Not only does narration impact speech and language development but it can also impact academics and social skills.
Research suggests that narration impacts language development ranging from comprehension to story retelling abilities, social skills, and even academic performance. This emphasizes the importance of reading out loud to your children. Stories are impactful!
Not coincidentally, narrative skills are a fundamental part of reading comprehension. When a child can tell a story, that child tends to better understand stories and vice versa. Preschool age children who experience targeted narration through stories and daily activities demonstrate improved receptive, expressive, and academic skills. These students tend to retain these skills for the long term.
Narration can improve:
- Receptive Language (understanding of activity or a social routine)
- Expressive Language (child verbalizing his own responses, questions, comments)
- Academic performance
- Grammar and Syntax
How can you narrate at home? Easy! Talk out loud to your child about what you are doing in that exact moment. When packing lunches, talk about the process of making the sandwich. When folding laundry, talk about the clothes, colors, and how to put the clothes away. I narrate my day constantly while my daughter stands next to me soaking in every word. It may seem strange at first but after a while it will become second nature. You can also narrate an activity your child is doing. If she sits down to build with blocks, talk freely about what she is building. Describe the block colors, shapes, etc. Books are another great way to narrate at home. Read a story out loud with your child. Whatever the activity – you really can’t go wrong! The simple ‘story of your life’ can have a big impact on your child.
Fore more tips, check out my free resource guide here.
Spencer TD, Petersen DB, Slocum TA, Allen MM. Large group narrative intervention in Head Start preschools: Implications for response to intervention. Journal of Early Childhood Research. 2015;13(2):196-217. doi:10.1177/1476718X13515419
Spencer TD, Kajian M, Petersen DB, Bilyk N. Effects of an Individualized Narrative Intervention on Children’s Storytelling and Comprehension Skills. Journal of Early Intervention. 2013;35(3):243-269. doi:10.1177/1053815114540002
Douglas B. Petersen , Catherine L. Brown , Teresa A. Ukrainetz , Christine Wise , Trina D. Spencer and Jennifer Zebre. Systematic Individualized Narrative Language Intervention on the Personal Narratives of Children With Autism. Journal of Speech Language and Hearing Research. 2014 45, (1). https://doi.org/10.1044/2013_LSHSS-12-0099
Douglas B. Petersen , Sandra Laing Gillam , Trina Spencer and Ronald B. Gillam. The Effects of Literate Narrative Intervention on Children With Neurologically Based Language Impairments: An Early Stage StudyJournal of Speech Language and Hearing Research. 2010 53, (4) 801-1074. https://doi.org/10.1044/1092-4388(2009/09-0001