Americans don’t use the word queue, I know. But “jump the line” doesn’t have the same ring to it, so just ignore that tiny detail, okay? The important thing is: there is a narration line, and it is killing me. Or, at least, it was threatening to do so.
On an average day, I listen to 14-18 narrations. Um. That’s a lot! And it’s only going to get worse because as my children get older, they will each have more readings to narrate per day.
(At this point, my friend Michele with 10 kids will chime in and say, “That’s nothing! I listened to 27,000 yesterday! Some of my kids stood in line for 5 hours — it’s like the Matterhorn at Disneyland around here!”)
One way to thin the line is to use written narrations, of course. My high schooler does at least one per day, as does my sixth grader. This definitely helps. My fourth grader, however, only does one per week and, of course, my second grader doesn’t do any written narrations at all, plus I’m still reading his books aloud to him.
Sometimes, when three or four people want to narrate at a time, I try to go in reverse age order — so first the youngest, then the next youngest, and so on. But this occasionally backfires because my sixth grader has the worst memory of all of them, and she’s back at “this guy did this thing” narrations if I wait too long.
I was baffled by what to do. On the one hand, the ideal is that everyone narrates to me directly following their readings while making meaningful eye contact. On the other hand, there is one of me, four of them, and I still have other things to do like laundry and cooking
Someone mentioned this to me once, and apparently I filed it away in my brain for future reference. I wish I could remember who — I really ought to send her a thank you card, whoever she is. This thing has saved my life. I was almost crushed to death under the weight of a thousand narrations, and now I’m breathing free again.
Here’s how it used to play out: my fourth grader approached me and said, “I have a narration,” and in response I whined, “But I’m trying to teach your brother math!” (We can all see who the mature person in the house was.)
But now I respond with, “Would you like to leave me a voice memo?”
We have some ground rules, of course. Things like:
- No playing with other apps on the iPod.
- If you leave me a voice memo, and you love doing so, it better be good or you’ll lose the privilege.
- If you hate leaving voice memos and choose to wait, your narration better be good, or next time leaving a voice memo won’t be optional.
What do I mean by “good?” Well, they know what I mean — they better use proper nouns and also give a pretty thorough retelling.
So anyhow, this is what’s keeping me sane right now. Juggling multiple students isn’t really different from what I imagined, but it’s sort of like when people tell you you’ll be tired once you have your first baby. You smile and nod — you know they’re right, and yet nothing they say can prepare you for the overwhelming level of fatigue. It’s just like that — it’s amazing and wonderful and all sorts of good and yet sometimes I don’t know which way is up.
Can I get an amen?
Here is where Charlotte Mason’s schools depart a bit from the homeschool mom’s actual experience. Her teachers taught one form. That’s it. All the students were reading the same book, so the teacher listened to — what? Maybe four narrations per day on average? They certainly weren’t teaching high school and elementary school at the same time! It’s not not the phonics nor the algebra that gives one pause; it’s the phonicsaswellasalgebra.
This is why we need to get a little creative now and then. Think outside the box and all that. For now, my solution is a simple thing: a voice memo app.
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