Retelling Stories through Narration Improves Brain Power

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Knowing a Pop Quiz is Coming Improves Listening

One of the beautiful benefits of oral narration is improved listening skills.  Even as adults, we sometimes find ourselves zoning out during long lectures or even during silent reading. But did you know that oral narration not only improves listening skills, but kids who narrate their understanding of what they’ve just read or heard are better at organizing their thoughts and delivering a clearer summary of  key ideas.

If you knew that you were going to have to give a brief synopsis of what you had heard or read (think pop quiz), you would be more careful about focusing your attention in a way that classifies and connects information so that you could confidently summarize your understanding, right?  Right!

A little child will do the same thing if he knows that mom is going to ask him questions at periodic intervals during the read-aloud time. Retelling stories through oral narration improves listening, thinking, and public speaking skills!  A triple winner!

Personally, I have trouble recounting something that I have just heard or read if I don’t narrate my understanding to someone.  For instance, I can scan the newspaper for interesting articles, and five minutes later, I have no recollection of what I read (no kidding…I could blame menopause…but I know I’m not always focused).

However, if I read an article or listen to the news with the intention of sharing what I learned with my husband or kids, then I notice my attention is intentionally focused on finding the keywords, the topic sentences, and the summary statements.  I even visually outline what I want to say before I open my mouth to make sure I don’t lose my train of thought.

Once I start talking, I realize my weak areas of understanding, and if my husband asks me questions (his perverse joy), I am able to clarify even fuller understanding or lack thereof of what I’ve read.

This process of oral narration or storytelling serves me well because it results in increased reading comprehension and long-term retention.

Let’s tell some stories,


P.S. If your son or daughter is scared to give a speech, he’ll especially benefit from narration, an essential element of classical education.

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