Since it's already been a couple weeks since the CM conference came and went, my post of notes in the draft folder will probably stay there but I just have to share my favorite part. But first, a disclaimer. I sometimes feel like the only tips and tricks type of things I share are really obvious (like it's easier to get your kids outside if you plan to do so) and I have these fears that people are reading this going, "Well, Duh" to everything I say. But I say it not to insult you, my readers, but because at some point, often times in the recent past, it wasn't obvious to me! This is one of those things.
A indispensible part of the Charlotte Mason method of teaching is Narration. The idea being that a person has to form their own connections with the material and the ideas it contains. By narrating, or telling back in their own words, what happened in the story, the person has a chance to do that. To process and work through it and make it their own. It's not a test of knowledge but the key to a child gaining that knowledge and is done for everything a student reads.
I agree with all of that but until I went to the conference, I hadn't actually done any narrating. Hangs head. Nancy over at Sage Parnassus gave the plenary talks and excellent speaker and CM expert that she is, required a variety of narration from us - drawing narration, silent narration, group narration of a picture and the classic narration (with the person sitting next to us). I could immediately tell the difference in my comprehension and now a few weeks later, I know I retained more of those talks then the rest of the conference.
Since then, I've started self-narrating two different things I'm reading - Charlotte Mason's 6th volume and my first of Plutarch's Lives, Poplicola. I've been reading Mason's works with a group since the beginning of the year but her sixth volume was getting a bit deep for me. I could tell you the basic idea she was talking about but I know I was missing out on a lot. And Poplicola was something I had started and really struggled to understand. So for that one, I completely started over, reading a paragraph a day and narrating. I'll be honest, I had to narrate sentence by sentence at the beginning but now I can finish the whole paragraph and narrate it back just fine. It only takes a few seconds for me to close my eyes, give myself a little narration and move on but its doing so much! If I wasn't a believe before, I certainly am now.