YMB #10 All About Narration: A Conversation with Sonya Shafer

Welcome back to a brand new season of Your Morning Basket. We’re starting this season off with a real treat: a conversation with Sonya Shafer all about narration.

Sonya is a veteran homeschooling mom and the co-founder of Simply Charlotte Mason, where she makes the principles and practical how-tos of a Charlotte Mason education accessible to today’s homeschooling families.

In this interview, Sonya demystifies the practice of narration, or reading living books and then having children “tell back” in their own words what they remember.

She shows how narration is not so much a method of quizzing our children, but rather a powerful tool for promoting attention, comprehension, and retention as the children make the books their own.

This conversation is full of step-by-step instructions for how to get started, ideas for moving beyond the basics with older kids, and plenty of trouble-shooting advice.

Listening answered so many of my own long-standing questions about narration, plus some questions I didn’t even know I had. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

All About Narration with Sonya Shafer Feature


This is Your Morning Basket where we help you bring Truth, Goodness and Beauty to your homeschool day. Hi everyone, and welcome to episode 10 of the Your Morning Basket podcast. I’m Pam Barnhill, your host, and I’m so happy you’re joining me today. We are back from our winter hiatus. It’s been almost a couple of months and I’m glad you’re joining me again. We’re ready to gear up for another big season, season 2 of the Your Morning Basket podcast where we are going to be chatting about any number of great things. Today I’m so excited. We have Sonya Shafer from Simply Charlotte Mason on, and we’re going to be talking about narration. In the upcoming weeks, we’re going to talk more about nature study, Plutarch, teaching from rest, Shakespeare, and a number of other great topics that have to do with the subject of Morning Time. We’re happy you’re joining us and we’re going to just dive right in to the great conversation today. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Sonya Shafer is a mom of four, and a veteran homeschooler as well as a speaker and a writer. She has spent years learning about and practicing Charlotte Mason style education. And now she passes on what she has learned to others through the many resources at her website Simply Charlotte Mason. She helps parents understand what a traditional Charlotte Mason education could look like in the 21st century, and she provides families with the tools they need in order to implement Charlotte’s worthy and time-tested principles in their homeschools. Sonya is a voice of encouragement to today’s generation of homeschool moms, and when I wanted to find someone who could explain the concept of narration and how the practice can fit into a Morning Time, I knew Sonya would be just the person to ask.

Sonya, welcome to the program.

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SONYA: Thanks Pam, it’s good to be with you.

PAM: Well, I am so glad you’re here. You are just one of my favorite people to talk to and learn from, so I think we’re going to have a great time.

SONYA: Thank you, I’m looking forward to it.

PAM: Well, let’s talk about narration. If there’s somebody out there who has not heard of the practice, or maybe they have heard the word, but they’re not quite sure what it is, can you kind of break it down for us and explain exactly what narration is?

SONYA: Its probably lowest level, its simplest level, it is simply telling back in your own words what you just heard or what you just read. I would read something to the child, and it would need to be a living book, and then I would ask the child to tell me back everything they can remember from that reading. It has to be in their own words; it’s not just parroting or reciting what they have heard. They have to take it all in and think it through, remember it all, put it in the right sequence, put it in their own words, mix it with any other opinions they have in their head, form it into coherent sentences and then spit it back out to you. So it’s a pretty high thinking level.

PAM: So this is not just them parroting the words back, they’re actually doing a lot of thought processes in their head to be able to do this?

SONYA: Yes, they are. Charlotte called it oral composition, because they’re really doing all of the mental work, all of the steps of writing a composition, just without the writing. You know, if I asked you to write on your favorite kitchen appliance, well, you wouldn’t start writing right away, you would start thinking ‘what are my appliances, which one is my favorite, what are the points I want to say about it, why is it my favorite, how would I start this composition?’ You’re going through that whole mental process, that’s what narration is. It’s oral composition.

PAM: So when we’re sitting there faced with a six year old and they’re giving this one line back, this is why we need to realize this is a process, it’s actually going to take some time for a child to be able to do all of those things in their head and tell back to us in this way.

SONYA: Yes, now Charlotte said you don’t require narration from a child under six years old. So, you’re right. Six years old is when you would start asking for narrations. And it is an art form, she said. So it does take some practice, and some skill to become fluent at it. But if you think about it, Pam, it’s also a very natural process for children. If they are excited about something, they will come and talk your ear off about it.

PAM: That’s true.

SONYA: So if we can read a book that’s exciting to them or that captures their interest, it would be pretty natural for them to want to tell you about it, what they got out of it, what they remember. So it’s kind of both. It is natural but it is also requires some time and practice to get really good at it.

PAM: Well then, you’ve touched on something I think we need to talk about here, because you were saying you need to read a book that’s interesting to them. And you mentioned earlier a living book. So can we define for everybody what a living book is?

SONYA: This is an important part of narration: choosing a book that can be narrated. A living book, the simplest definition is a living book is a book that makes the subject come alive to you. Usually it is written by one author who has a passion for that subject and it’s usually in story form or in conversational tone and the big difference is that you will be able to see the action in your mind’s eye, or the descriptions. It will inspire the imagination that way. And usually it will also touch the emotions so that the child will grab a hold of it and make it their own, and then it will be much easier to - I call it ‘replay the movie in their minds eye’ that makes it very easy to narrate. They can see the action in their mind’s eye. It’s very hard to narrate a textbook, it’s almost impossible to narrate a textbook. You’ve got to use these living books that make the subject come alive.

PAM: For finding living books we can do that by going to the Simply Charlotte Mason book finder, correct?

SONYA: That’s one place you can find them. On our website we have a CM Book Finder that is a database of thousands of living books. My friend, Karen, and I who run Simply Charlotte Mason, we put in the information about the thousands of books on our own bookshelves and then lately we’ve opened it up so other people who do Charlotte Mason could enter their favorite books in that database as well. That’s one place you can find it. You can also look at different booklists that have been published, of other living books that are out there. What’s the one I’m thinking of? The one by Michelle Miller.

PAM: TruthQuest.

SONYA: There it is! TruthQuest, she has just lots of living book lists that will help you find good living books that all through the ages just has tons of living books in there, listed in chronological order. So there are just all kinds of resources available to help you find a living book.

PAM: Because I think that’s going to be one of the questions as people get started with this process and they might come up against… well, let’s troubleshoot this. Let’s say I sat down and I read a passage to my child, and I know that I’m supposed to keep these passages short in the beginning, no matter what the age of the child as they’re learning to narrate.

SONYA: Right. Correct.

PAM: Because no child, whatever their ages, is really going to be able to orally narrate an entire chapter through the first time, unless they’re just super excited. If I sit down with my child, and I read, let’s say, a paragraph to them and they come back at me with a one sentence answer, how do I begin troubleshooting this? Is it the child? Is it the book? How do I know where to start?

SONYA: That’s a good question. I would start by asking myself, is this a true living book? Make sure I’ve got a good living book. And, can I visualize what’s happening in my mind’s eye as I’m reading it? If so, then let’s keep trying with it. Now, another thing that I would ask myself is, is the portion too long? If it’s only a paragraph, then probably the answer is going to be no. I would also ask myself, was the child paying attention, or was she distracted by something? Was the baby crying in the other room or in this room? Was the phone ringing? Was her brother over there playing with legos and it was distracting her attention? Anything like that because if you’re going to read a passage one time and require a narration immediately after that one reading, that child has to be paying full attention. So I would ask myself, was she being distracted by anything? And then if the answer to all of those is coming up no, I think it’s fine, I think the book is fine, the length was fine, she was not distracted, then I would need to remind myself of a technique that Charlotte used often with the kids, and I would probably use this next time we read from the book. There are actually about four or five steps you go through to have a good narration lesson. The first step obviously is choosing a good book, a good living book. But before she would read the passage, it wasn’t just a cold-turkey, ‘OK so I’m just going to jump into this.’ If we had read from that book previously, we would first review where we are in the book? What happened last time? “Oh yeah, that’s where we’re picking up the story.” OK, now we’re ready, now we’ve got our context set, and then step 3 was let’s introduce today’s reading to the child. Here’s a technique you can use: scan what you’re going to be reading today for yourself ahead of time, pull out two or three key words. They might be proper nouns, they might be action words, or whatever you think is the key here. Put those on a little white board or a sheet of paper and then when you’re introducing the passage that you’re going to read today, bring up those key words and say, “OK, now we’re going to hear about so-and-so and this location, and I want you to listen very closely, especially for these things and I want you to include them in your narration” and then you leave that up there on the board while you’re reading. That just gives them little mental hooks to hang their narration on. So then you’ll do that brief introduction to whet their appetite, then you read the passage. See, we’re at step four now. Reading the passage isn’t step one, it’s step four. And then after you read the passage, keep that white board up there with the words, and say “OK, now, tell it back to me in your own words.” Those steps, if you go through all five steps, I think that will make your narration lesson much more successful and go much more smoothly.

PAM: I love that. But these steps, they only take two or three minutes to complete.

SONYA: Absolutely. You’re not doing three points and a poem here. This isn’t time for a sermon. It’s just a brief recap. “Oh yeah this is where we are.” If we had been reading about Haydn (I’ve been studying him lately, his book is sitting here on my desk looking at me right now), if we were studying about Papa Haydn and last time we read about how he pretended to play a violin when he was a little boy, that’s how much he just loved music. So we would say, “Last time, oh yeah, we read about Papa Haydn, and how he was pretending to play the violin. What do you remember about that?” And we’re not looking for a full blown, big detailed narration at this point, just enough to make a connection. Charlotte likened this step to pulling the rope out of the well, so you can tie the next section of rope onto it. So that when we’re done the whole story of Haydn will be connected, not just individual little snippets. Does that make sense?

PAM: Yeah, because this is one of the things that comes up as I’m reading through something with my children, and we’re trying to practice this narration technique, is I feel like we’re having to read in such teeny tiny chunks, and so it’s frustrating to me as somebody who would sit down and read a whole chapter at one time, or two chapters or something, that we’re losing the story in these little chunks, so I’m liking this a lot.

SONYA: Well, good. And again, like you said, this is not taking up the entire time. It would only take a couple of minutes to say, “OK, last time Papa Haydn played the violin, what do you remember?” It would take her about one minute or less to tell you what she remembers about that. “Alright, this time we’re going to read about what happens next to Haydn and how he goes into this choir. And here are the key words I want you to listen for carefully. We’re going to find out what happens to Haydn next.” Now we read. Then we have her narrate back. Again, we look at the clock, because we don’t want a history or music history lesson that we’re doing, to take more than 15 or 20 minutes total for a child of six. So when we get to that point where she has given us the narration, we look at the clock, ‘Do we have time to keep going?’ Yes we do. So then we read the next paragraph. And we don’t have to go through those previous steps again, because she just narrated. She knows where we are. We’re on the same section of rope for our well here, we’re still going. It would just be if we read another day that we would want to come back and review. Does that make sense too?

PAM: That does make sense.

OK, so those are some really helpful tips. You talked a little bit in there about the attention thing, where your child has to be paying attention. And so I know that Charlotte Mason advocated reading a passage only one time in order to build that habit of attention. So what do I do when I’m faced with a child who either tells me “I don’t know” or they give me this really subpar narration? Let’s say I get through that first Haydn paragraph with them and the narration is just like ‘Oh my goodness, were you here? Were you listening?’ You know everything else is right. Maybe we’ve even narrated well on another day and you read that one chapter and they’ve got, “I don’t know” when you ask for a narration. There’s part of me, I know that Charlotte Mason said don’t read it again, what do you do when you feel like you just failed at this?

SONYA: If you have those keys words up, that is going to help a lot, because that will give her hooks to hang her narration on. If she is just not paying attention, that she was just dawdling, where she was just looking out the window or whatever, then what I try to do is apply a natural consequence in that instance, where I say, “We need to keep moving, we need to go onto something else, so we’re going to set this aside.” We’re going to go and do something else that’s entirely opposite to it as we can. Use a different part of the brain.

PAM: OK, stop for just a second and tell me if I need to go do something opposite of narration, what should I go do at this point?

SONYA: We’ve been using the listen to mom read and narrate, we’ve been working with words, we’ve been sitting in a chair. We’ve been dealing with sentences and literature, so now let’s go do something else. We could go do math for a little bit, use number part of the brain. We could go outside and do nature study. We could look at a picture and talk about a picture, do picture study. We could go listen to some music and do music study. We could do two minutes of copy work, and work on our fine motor skills. We could get up and do some exercises. Any of those things we use a different part of the brain than the listen, remember, and narrate.

PAM: So as long as we’re not picking up another book and just moving to a different book and having them do the same thing, we’re good then?

SONYA: Right. You don’t want to do that. And especially when you have several books you want to get through in a day, don’t do them back to back to back. You’re shooting yourself in the foot. The more you make the child use the listen and narrate part of the brain that part of the brain is going to get fatigued. It will start to wear out. And the more tired it gets, the harder it will be to pay full attention. You know how that is. If you’ve been sitting in a convention and you go to workshops all day long, by about the 6th workshop, it’s really hard to pay full attention because that part of your brain that listens to the speaker and take notes part of the brain is over-fatigued. It’s the same thing for a narration. So, if you’ve got three books that you’re going to be narrating from during the day. Spread them out and put other activities in-between them that will use different parts of the brain and body.


SONYA: That’s one thing you can do. If the child was just like, “I don’t know what happened.” You can set it aside, let’s go do something else. But they’re not getting off scot-free. You go do something else, then you come back. And as Charlotte said with freshened wit you pick this up and let’s try it again.

PAM: So, would you read the same passage again? Or would you move on to the next passage?

SONYA: I would read the same one again if it were short, and when I talked about a natural consequence, what I did there is, if I know they were paying attention, they’re just not trying, and this is more of an attitude issue, then I would say, “OK setting this aside we’re going to do our other school work. And later this afternoon when you’re supposed to have free time, we’re going to have to do this lesson over.”


SONYA: “Because you stole the time from me, so I’m going to have to take time from you this afternoon.” That might be another way to handle it.

PAM: Right. But what I hear you saying is that we should probably assume that they’re like, 50 other things wrong, before we assume an attitude problem. As if this is a skill, you know.

SONYA: Yeah, it’s true. You know you’re child best. Now the other thing that we get sometimes, is the little attitude, while we’re on that subject, is “why should I tell you, you just read it, don’t you remember what you just read?”

PAM: OK, this is my question! I hear that from people too that kids will feel like they’re being quizzed or put on the spot. So, how do you explain, kind of, the concept of what you’re trying to do, especially with an older child. Let’s say I have a fifth grader or sixth grader and I’ve just discovered Charlotte Mason and I want to do this and I want to do it right, but we’ve never done this before, and that’s how they feel. And with a child that age I personally feel like you need to offer some kind of explanation.

SONYA: Oh yes, that would be very helpful.

PAM: So how do you do that? How do you explain it?

SONYA: So the main thing is to make sure the child knows narration is not for the teacher’s benefit. You are not retelling it for my benefit. It is for your own benefit. This is a powerful tool that you can use to educate yourself for the rest of your life. This is the tool that I am trying to learn how to use better myself so that I can continue to learn and this is a tool that you can use, if you can read something once with full attention and put it in your own words, and tell it back to me, you know it. Charlotte called that the act of knowing. So it’s a tool for you to cement it in your own mind and to help you remember it long-term. That’s how I would explain it to the child. And I’m not going to sit here and ask you questions so that you remember only the little bits that you think I’m going to ask. That’s not true education for yourself. This is ‘I want you to remember as much of it as you possibly can, and I want you to practice using language well, to communicate what you have learned to other people.’ Narration is also laying the ground work for public speaking. There are so many benefits to this. It seems simple and yet it is a very deep tool that our students can use, and that we can use. Good grief, people of all ages can use this! I try to do it too. I challenge you to do it some time, Pam. In fact, Charlotte recommended read like a chapter of … let’s see, who did she say? …

PAM: Probably Plutarch, knowing Charlotte.

SONYA: Probably! Well, I would read a chapter to yourself right before bed, lay the book aside, and that’s the key too, no looking back. Lay the book aside, and go over it in your mind, and always ask yourself, ‘What’s next? What happened next?’ Tell it to yourself and then go to sleep. And the next morning see how much of it you remember. You’ll be amazed.

PAM: Except I’m not sure I could do a whole chapter.

SONYA: Choose a short chapter. Do an Aesop’s Fables.

PAM: There you go, which is one of my favorite things to start with when it comes to narration. I think they’re great for that.

SONYA: They are, because they’re so short, yet you can see them in your mind’s eye and it is an entire story in just a paragraph or two. So they’re a great place to start.

PAM: Well, I think it’s important for the child that they see that you’re not some kind of adversary in this process, that you are teaching them a skill, like you would teach them long division, and then ask them to practice long division problems. The same thing with narration, you’re teaching them a skill.

SONYA: And just telling back in your own words is just one way of doing narration. If you have a child, as I do, who has language delays, I would have her draw a picture of her favorite parts of what we read, and then once she has drawn her picture, I ask her to tell me about your picture. So then that kind of helps her to communicate better. So you can have them draw pictures, you can have them act out the story for themselves. For the older kids, when the children were 11-13 or so, Charlotte started asking them to write. They started writing their narrations at 10 years old and up, and then around 11-13, she would throw more challenge at them, and say, “Good, this time write it in poetry form” and if she really wanted to raise the bar, she would say, “Write it in poetry form after the style of this particular poet whom we have been reading.”

PAM: Oh wow. There’s a lot of powerful thinking.

SONYA: Yeah, you can raise the bar quite high in narration, just by tweaking it a little bit as you go. With her high school kids she would have them writing letters to the editor, stating their position on current issues, and supporting that in a persuasive letter narration. So you can take it quite far.

PAM: OK, so a lot of times in Morning Time, one of the main characteristics of this is the whole family is at the table together, learning. So, for example, this morning we read a very delightful chapter from Stories of the Americas 2, the one on Abraham Lincoln. So we’re all there together, and my family is learning history, and I’ve got the three kids there. So give me some tips about doing narration with a group of children altogether, so that I don’t have one who’s dominating the entire scene and another one who’s going, ‘I’m just going to let her talk, I don’t need to say anything.’

SONYA: Exactly. Well, there are several ways you can go about it. And I always encourage moms to mix it up so the kids have variety in this. One thing you can do is go in age order, start with the youngest and say, “Tell me everything you remember” and when they’re done, say, “OK, next oldest, do you have anything to add to that?” and then the next oldest. Now, I don’t recommend using that one very often because the older kids catch on really fast. “No, nothing to add. He did a great job!”

PAM: I get that!

SONYA: So, what you can do is start with the youngest and when he is done, go to the next one and they are required to add something that has not already been said. Now if you’ve got 15 kids in front of you … you don’t have 15, do you Pam?

PAM: No, I don’t.

SONYA: When you get to that point, by the time you get up to the older kids, at some point the whole story will have been told, and that’s good, because the older kids are now going to have to use critical thinking skills. “So-and-so in this story reminds me of so-and-so in this story because of such-and-such.” Or they’re going to have to offer opinions on what happened and support those opinions. So they can take it that direction as well. Another approach you can do is I call it the popcorn style, where the kids never know who’s going to start. So when you’re done reading, you say, “Johnny, you start.” And he starts to tell it and when he gets a little ways into it, you say, “OK, hold it there. Now who do you want to pick up the story from there?” And he chooses one of his siblings. “OK, Susie take it from there.” And when she gets a little ways, “OK, hang on. Who goes next? OK, Joey, you’re turn.” And you can just do it popcorn style, going through the kids that way. That’s some of the ways you can do it. If you have an older child, who’s older than 10, and has already had the foundation of oral narration laid and is comfortable with it, then you could dismiss that child to go in another room and write his narration while you deal with just the younger ones here, and maybe they’re going to draw a picture today, and tell you about their pictures. You can mix it up some.

PAM: I want to hit a couple of points here that l think listeners might be thinking about right now. You said earlier that you would never require a narration for a child less than six. That that was what Charlotte advocated. And so I know this morning when we were reading, and I closed my chapter and asked them about Abraham Lincoln, I said, “Tell me what you remember about Abraham Lincoln.” The five year old was the first one to pop up with something. So I just want to clarify for everybody, you don’t shush the five year old. You let them narrate if they want to, right?

SONYA: Correct. If they volunteer in narration, we will take it. But we don’t require it from them.


SONYA: If the five year old is the one who keeps talking over and so the older siblings don’t get a chance, then we need to start taking turns. But yeah, we don’t require it younger than six.

PAM: And then what do you do with a child who’s been doing narration for a number of years, and you’re talking about all of this wonderful higher level thinking stuff going on in narrations. So if I have a child who’s been doing it, they’re six, seven, eight years old, and they know, they’ve got the retelling, kind of summarizing, giving lots of details, but they still haven’t gone past that kind of, I’m sure you’re familiar with Bloom’s Taxonomy, that comprehension stage into any deeper thought, do you worry about that or do you do something to try to get them to make deeper connections?

SONYA: Yeah, what you can do… let me back up for just a second and talk about in most composition programs, which Charlotte didn’t use a program, she used narration instead, but most programs emphasize covering four types of composition: the narrative, the descriptive, the expository, and the persuasive. And Charlotte was able to get the child to give her all four types of narrations in simply in how she asked for those narrations. And it was spread out over the years. So your 1st through 3rd grade focused mainly on the narrative form: tell me the story. Retell the story. And that’s where you start. That’s the simplest form. But then once you got to 4th through 6th grade, Charlotte would keep the narrative plate spinning but she would also bring in another possibility and that would be the descriptive. So if the passage lent itself well to a descriptive type of narration, then she would ask for that. It might be, “OK, Joey” (applying it to us today) “Joey, you retell me the story. Tell me what happened? That’s right.” Now Susie is in 4th through 6th grade, “Susie, describe to me what such-and-such looked like in that passage that we read.” So we’re helping her learn to find her feet in this descriptive style. Or if you’re reading a geography book Charlotte would do things like, “If you were entering Rome through such-and-such a gate, what would it look like? What would you see?” so those types of questions. They’re still wide open narration questions. It’s not there’s only one short answer to it, where there’s a yes or no answer, that’s what we want to shun. We want to leave it open for them but she is guiding them into what type of narration she wants from them. So, 1st through 3rd was narrative, 4th through 6th we added in some descriptive narration, 7th through 9th we can add in some expository narrations, so it might be, “Explain how such-and-such worked. We’ve been reading about a beehive. Explain to me how a beehive works.” And let them practice using expository narration. And then in 10th through 12th grade she added in some of these persuasive ones: so-and-so in this book, compare him to so-and-so in this other book. Which one’s character is more in line with Scripture and prove that. Give me sight references and examples from our readings that would prove your point. So she was framing the type of narration she wanted but it was still the wide open question.


SONYA: To answer your question short-form, she worked up to it in stages, little by little, as the child gained more experience with narration.

PAM: That’s awesome. I never knew there were all those different kinds of narrations. So, that’s great.

SONYA: Yeah, it’s pretty cool. If you go through, I think it’s the back of Volume Three of her writings. School Education is Volume Three if you look in the back you will see her End of Term exam questions. A term was 12 weeks, every 12 weeks they would take one whole week to just do exams. And she would ask three or four questions over every book they had been reading during that term and those questions were always narration questions, and so it kind of gave you a feel for her style of what kinds of narration questions she would ask from the kids.

PAM: I think one of the places I’ve been hung up before, and I do have younger kids, I only have child who is basically out of that retelling part of narration, so this could be one of the reasons why. But I always kind of get hung up on I’m not allowed to ask any question other than ‘Tell me back what you heard.”

SONYA: No. There is also after they have narrated to you, you have a discussion option available to you. You can play the discussion card if you want to.

PAM: This was actually one of my questions. I’m glad you brought this up because I really want you to talk about the differences between the two and how narration might lead to discussion.

SONYA: Narration is more retelling what you got from the story, retelling the story itself. Discussion would be what we think about that, what that reminds us of, do we agree with what they did, where do we think this might lead next? Just different things like that. We don’t want to analyze and pull a story apart until all the joy is gone out of it, but simple discussion questions that arise, of course, those are very welcome and we want to leave it open for that, after they have already told us what they do remember. And if there’s a certain point that they left out their narration, something that you think is quite important, you can bring it up in the discussion time. You can say, “Now, I remember there was a part about such-and-such. Do you remember that one? What can you tell me about that?” So you can bring that up then in order to tie up any loose ends, or to emphasize something that you really wanted to bring out of that passage.

PAM: I think that’s a lot of things. People don’t think about that, or don’t really know about that part of it, that Charlotte didn’t advocate just do your narration and stop, put the book away, and you’re not allowed to talk about it or ask about it or anything like that, but you can follow it up with that discussion period.

SONYA: Yes, absolutely. And again, it needs to be brief. You don’t want to intrude on the child and tell them exactly what they should be thinking at all times. But you do want to be able to discuss it. Absolutely. I made the mistake when I was first learning about Charlotte Mason, I thought a narration lesson looked like this: open the book, well first, tell the child to sit down, open the book, read the passage, tell the child to tell you what they remembered, and then move on. And that’s all there was to it. And if they forgot something then too bad, that’s just the way it goes. There’s so much more to a good narration lesson. And there’s actually, we have a free e-book on our website you can download. It’s called Five Steps to Successful Narration, and it will remind you of those five steps we talked about earlier, if you just look on our bookstore and under Free Resources.

PAM: We’ll put a link to that in our Show Notes, so they’ll be able to click right over and pick it up.

SONYA: That should help some.

PAM: I think another question that might be on people’s minds is what happens if the child is in the middle of narrating and they’re just flat out wrong about something?

SONYA: There are a couple of ways you can go at this. One is Charlotte said you should never interrupt a child who’s narrating, because it throws them completely off track. You know how it is if you’re trying to tell a story to someone and they keep interrupting you to correct you, correct what you’re saying? You lose your train of thought. And you forget where you were going. And so, if they just throw in one or two mistakes, like they said “So-and-so talked to George” when so-and-so was actually talking to Herbert, you might just go ahead and let them keep going because they’re on the right track, they just got a little detail off. And when they’re done, you can then say to the other children “Now, is there anything you want to add or anything you want to clarify” (that’s a good word, rather than correct) and see if any of them caught it and want to correct it, or you can go ahead and say it when she’s done. That’s for incidental mistakes and by the way, if it’s grammar mistakes or something like that, don’t even go there.

PAM: Yeah, just let that go.

SONYA: Oh yeah, there’s no better way to shut down a child than to start correcting her grammar when she’s trying to narrate, goodness. Did you have that with writing too, when you were given a composition assignment and then handed it in and the teacher took out her red pen and bled all over the paper? Didn’t that just really encourage you to try again?

PAM: Oh yeah!

SONYA: Oh, this is so fun. No! So we have to be careful we’re not bleeding all over their papers if they are writing their narrations. But we also sometimes can do the same approach verbally, if we’re not careful. So, let the incidental mistakes go if they’re not important, but if she’s just completely on the wrong foot, she got started on the wrong trajectory and she’s just going off in left field, then you might need to reel her back in gently, and say, “Oh, hang on, that’s not what I heard” or “that’s not what I thought it was” and discuss it as a group. You might need to, at that point, go back (to clarify) to the text but you want to stay away from looking at the book during narration as much as possible. That’s another thing Charlotte said. Don’t bury your nose in the book while the child is narrating to you. Look at the child. Let your face convey encouragement to the child, an interest in what they are saying, so that you can spur them on to greater heights. So, you don’t want to just be looking at the book, checking for any possible mistakes so you can pounce on it. We don’t go there.

PAM: If it’s a biggie, then you can pull them back and get them going in the right direction, but save the other stuff.

SONYA: Yes, gently with lots of grace. And decide if that’s a hill you want to die on.

PAM: And then I have one who likes to add cupcakes, and fairies, and unicorns to anything. So it’s not so much a mistake as it is an embellishment sometimes.

SONYA: Now, Charlotte said each child’s narration it will be a reflection of their personality. They add little delightful touches in there. And so if you know that it’s just something fun that the child wants to do because she’s enjoying interacting with the book, and that she doesn’t really think that Hannibal took cupcakes with him over the Alps, then I would let it go and I would laugh too.


SONYA: Looking her in the eye and encouraging her, like a little joke that we shared between us. I had one daughter that did that too, and it was just so much fun, because she’d get a little twinkle in her eye and she would throw some Star Wars character into her narration just for fun. And I knew that she knew it was just for fun, that it wasn’t really part of the story. So I just chalked that up to her personality in letting her interact with the material, for herself. You have to know your child.

PAM: Yeah, that’s awesome. That’s great to hear. This is another thing moms need to hear too because we need to give grace to our children as they’re learning how to do this very powerful thing, but we also need to give grace to ourselves, because a lot of times I sit around and think, ‘If I can’t get this right I’m just going to quit, we’re just going to stop.’ But we need to go through the process and just keep trying over and over again, and it may be a slow process, it may be slow-going, but if we keep at it, we will eventually get there and one day we’ll look up and say, “Hey, you know, these narrations weren’t that bad.”

SONYA: Yes, we have to trust the process. And sometimes that is hard to do, but eventually the children, if they internalize this tool and start making it their own, you’ll be very … I don’t want to say surprised, maybe surprised … but you will be very pleased at what ends up at the other end of the process, what kinds of narrations you’re going to get once they have had a lot of years to practice this. And I tell you, if you think this is an easy tool, an easy task, an easy skill, try it for yourself. It is not as easy as it sounds.

PAM: So lots of practice. Well, Sonya, thank you so much for being here today and teaching us all about narration. I do appreciate it.

SONYA: Thank you for inviting me, there’s a whole lot more that we could talk about with narration. We opened it up to questions from our readers and I thought, ‘You know, we might get enough questions to do about four different blog posts to answer their questions on narration.’ And we ended up getting 50 or 60 questions and so we’ve answered all of those questions and that is on our blog as well, a Q&A for Narration, but it might be helpful to some people; how to get started all the way up to how do you handle this in high school and how do you raise the bar on it? So hopefully that will encourage a lot of moms to use this powerful tool for themselves as well as for their children.

PAM: Right, and that’s Narrations, Your Questions Answered, and that’s a book they can get in your store. I have it. I actually own it, and we have a mom at our co-op who’s doing narration with a group of children each week and she owns a copy of it and that’s what she’s using as her guide. So it’s an awesome guide and we’ll link to it in the Show Notes as well.

SONYA: The book is available but we also have just the blog post in our archives. Now the book has a little bit of extra information besides what is on the blog post. But if you aren’t able to grab the whole book right now then at least read the blog posts and that will get you headed in the right direction.

PAM: Well, we’ll find both of those. We’ll find the blog posts so people can take a look and then we’ll also link to the book for people who want the ease of use to just download the whole thing and go with it.

SONYA: Right, they can download it all in one place and that has a few extra chapters and some extra things in it that are not in the blog archive.

PAM: Well, thanks so much. I appreciate it.

SONYA: Thank you.

PAM: OK, for your Basket Bonus today, in addition to some of the wonderful resources that are available over at SimplyCharlotteMason.com to help you get started with narration, we’ve also got for you a little downloadable bookmark of narration ideas so you can print this out, put it in your book, and as you’re reading along at the end of the chapter or at the end of the paragraph each day, you can kind of look to this narration bookmark for some ideas to get you started with your narration. And we’ve put this together in conjunction with [**inaudible** 44:12] Miss Jenny Langley, who is a good friend of ours and who has used the Charlotte Mason method for a number of years, so be sure to head on over to the Show Notes for this episode, that would be EDSnapshots.com/YMB10 to download your Basket Bonus and check out all the great links that Sonya talked about in the show today. And that’s it for episode 10. We will be most happy for you to head on over to iTunes if you liked this episode and be sure to leave us a rating or review over there. And I just want to say thank you to everybody who has already taken the time to do so. We’ll be back in a couple of weeks with our next episode, and until then continue seeking Truth, Goodness, and Beauty in your homeschool day.

Key Ideas about Narration


  • is the practice of reading living books and having children “tell back” what they remember.
  • requires the habit of attention, from both parent and child.
  • is a powerful tool for both comprehension and memory.
  • is a strenuous task, but a fruitful one as children make stories and ideas their own by tellingthem in their own words.
  • requires that we begin with a living book

Find what you want to hear:

  • [2:26] what is narration
  • [4:21] narration as a natural, but strenuous, process for children
  • [5:21] what is a living book
  • [6:32] where to find living books
  • [7:48] trouble-shooting questions to ask yourself
  • [9:51] Charlotte Mason’s narration techniques step-by-step
  • [14:50] what to do if your child didn’t pay attention
  • [19:51] how to explain the purpose behind narration to an older child
  • [23:09] other ways to approach narration (drawing, acting out, etc.)
  • [23:40] written narration
  • [24:36] group narration
  • [27:40] not requiring narration from kids under 6
  • [28:33] moving past just retelling into other forms of higher-order thinking
  • [33:18] narration vs. discussion
  • [36:07] what to do if a child makes a mistake

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Thanks for your reviews

  • Enjoy the podcast & some thoughts…
    by rufocused from United States

    I enjoy listening to tips on starting and using morning time as I am just starting it this year. We have kind of done it in the past, but when you only have one child you tend to just call it bible, story time, etc… but now that my second one is old enough to join we’re going to have more of a true morning time. I did notice Pam mentioned CNN ten in one episode. CNN can be pretty liberal biased in the main news, I’m not sure if they curb that in the “CNN ten”, but thought I would mention the Daily Wire, which is from a conservative viewpoint (and often covers indoctrination in public schools) and could be fun to compare and contrast with CNN. Our family also recently discovered Daily Citizen from Focus on the Family which has a very Christian perspective, which has been refreshing as news can be so depressing sometimes! Just thought I’d throw that out there… but really do appreciate the perspectives and insights of these women who have been doing this for awhile!

  • Very helpful and pleasant to listen to.
    by Heather homeschooler from United States

    I have listened to many episodes of this podcast and have highly recommended it to others. It has been a wonderful source of inspiration and encouragement. Pam has a great voice and presence and I love that she does not interrupt or talk over her guests. Thank you for your hard work!

  • Always insightful!!
    by method_money from Canada

    Pam always has great great guests who bring great insights and encouragement! I so appreciate her down to earth style and ability to ask great questions! Keep up the great work!!

  • A wildly encouraging and equipping podcast for homeschool families.
    by Eryn Lynum from United States

    As a homeshool mama of four (Ages 2-9), Pam's podcast has been an increidble encouragement to me. Not only that, but I have discovered so many helpful resources for focusing on what is lovely and true during our homeschool days. I love that it is not overwhelming in nature, but instead a gentle help for moving forward one day at a time in our homeschooling adventure.

  • Best podcast for homeschooling/variety of topics
    by Bethetal from United States

    I love this podcast for so many reasons. (1) Pam is friendly, funny, humble and kind (2) She covers a multitude of topics (one at a time)- I have learned about nature notebooks, classical music study, narration, living books, Shakespeare and so much more. Whenever I have a question about a new (to me)HS term or practice, I come here to listen to Pam interview someone about it. Her interviewees have all been all-in on their respective areas of interest/expertise and I love the way she interviews/asks questions to really let the guests shine as they speak. I have changed the structure of my homeschool, found books for my kids and me, purchased materials, and found inspiration due to this podcast and I can’t recommend it enough! This podcast has shaped my homeschool in so many positive ways, most of which I probably can’t even articulate yet, as the changes have been done inside of me. Thanks, Pam!

  • Great!!!
    by Eloblah from United States

    I love the variety of things that are talked about on this show for homeschooling - things that I would never even think about including or doing - with easy ways to do them. Very much recommend this podcast

  • New home schooling mom
    by A prit from United States

    I am listening to the past episodes and loving it. This podcast has helped me develop my own homeschool. So many ideas!! I love morning time so much, we do a nightly family time so my husband and public school attending son. We do all the things instead of watching tv, playing ps4, and YouTube. My kids hang around me every evening asking if we are doing family time. I can tell they love it but don’t want to admit it.

  • Morning Time Magic!
    by DrewSteadman from United States

    I am so excited Pam is back to her morning time focus for 2020. Our homeschool has been shaped by the rich ideas and practical wisdom shared here.

  • Yay! Morning time is back!
    by Homeschooler in Germany from United States

    I was so happy and excited to learn that Pam is shifting her focus back to Morning Time for 2020! I’ve missed the morning time exclusive podcast and can’t wait to hear her back in my earbuds.

  • So excited for 2020!
    by JCrutchf from United States

    I absolutely LOVE this podcast and was so disappointed when I realized you were not actively producing it! I’m NOW relieved to know there is a whole year of episodes ahead! I’m beginning my homeschool journey with 4 little ones very close in age and my style falls somewhere in the Classical and Charlotte Mason. I found your podcast by chance via Instagram recommendation as I was doing research on “morning menus.” Your content is beautifully philosophical but at a level most parents will be able to grasp and appreciate. Filled with truth, beauty, and goodness! Your episodes fill me up and leave me feeling inspired personally and in regards to my children’s education. Everything is so good! Please don’t stop producing ever again! I’ll be grateful forever!

  • So glad Your Morning is back!!!
    by alissajohn2020 from United States

    So glad to have the morning basket podcast back! Thank you for bringing it back!!

  • So good I ran out of gas.
    by JoanieHummel from United States

    This podcast is awesome! It was recommended to me a few years ago by a very wise and experienced homeschool mom but I didn’t start listening until I saw it come up a few more times on Facebook, recommended in various groups (in particular, episode number 41). I wish I had picked it up years ago! So much great information, I’m learning so much! Be careful though, I was so interested listening to this podcast that I didn’t notice how low my gas tank was getting! I ran out of gas and as I write this review I’m stranded on the side of the road waiting for a friend to come rescue me! Happy listening!

  • Knowledge Goldmine
    by A.J. Edwards from United States

    I’ve just been eating up every episode of this brilliant podcast over the past few months. The guests are stellar and Pam’s interview style is wonderful. She gets each guest to the meat and potatoes of their topic but it’s anything but a plain meal. This is a feast for the homeschool mom’s mind. I know I’ll be revisiting many of my favorite episodes again and again. Feeling so inspired by each guest!

  • Myths and fairytale truths for homeschoolers
    by Allierhn from United States

    Mind blown! I’m listening to the myth podcast and it’s absolutely perfect. It is answering so many questions I’ve struggled with my whole life. It helps me to view our curriculum and informs my teaching so much more.

  • Super Helpful!
    by Jennlee C from United States

    I can’t speak highly enough about this podcast. It has been a huge inspiration and a practical help to my homeschool! Thank you so much Pam Barnhill and everyone else who contributes to this. It has been an amazing blessing to me and my children… And possibly generations to come!

  • Practical Inspiration
    by Mamato3activeboys from Australia

    Not only am I inspired by each episode of this podcast but I have actually put so many of the ideas into practice in our own morning time. Such a huge help as I seek to inspire my non-stop boys to truth, goodness and beauty. We are now memorising poetry as they jump on the trampoline and they love Shakespeare. That's a parenting win in my book!

  • So many great ideas!
    by Parent 98765 from Malaysia

    Thank you, Pam! I’m now bursting with inspiration and can’t wait to start our 2019 school year with a strong morning time routine.

  • Joy
    by Ancon76 from United States

    My heart is enriched and I can’t wait to learn more.

  • Just what I was looking for!
    by Joey5176 from United States

    I was looking for morning basket ideas—simple ones. These podcasts are giving me a picture of a good morning basket.

  • Wow!! What amazing nuggets of knowledge
    by HeRo84 from United States

    This is truly life changing information for me as a homeschool mother. Thank you Pam for this amazing series.

  • Love it!
    by s chenvmv from United States

    I love all of Pam’s podcast but this one is prob my favorite. I love to listen to all her guest and see the different ways a morning time can be done

  • Excellent
    by W.A., R.A. Hall from United States

    Love this!

  • Love, love, love this show
    by SarahPMiller from United States

    And I'm not even a homeschooling mother! But I've created a Morning Time for my children nonetheless, and I wouldn't have been inspired to do it -- nor could I have done it -- without this podcast. It's my favorite, and I get something out of every single episode.

  • Wonderful resource!
    by honebubble from United States

    This podcast has changed what I thought I could offer my children, my family and myself... I never would have believed that it would be possible to live a life as so many people actually do. Thank you for these tools and for what you do to help women, teachers, moms and all those on this path. You are amazing and I just can’t get enough, each episode teaches me so much!! Thank you again!

  • A wonderful podcast!
    by NoName2018 from Canada

    Great ideas and interesting guests - thanks Pam!!

  • Insightful, Inspiring, Life-Giving Podcast
    by Mackenziechester from United States

    I love this podcast. It has turned cleaning my kitchen into a really valuable part of my day. There are great tips here for gathering your family together and finding ways to share the things you are passionate about but can never quite find the time to fit in to a typical school day. So many ideas, so many varied topics. Great, inspiring guests. Life-changing podcast. Thanks so much for sharing these ideas!

  • Such great choices of guests
    by andinic from United Kingdom

    This podcast is inspirational for your homeschool plans. Pam Barnhill has a delightful interviewing style and her guests share their insights and enthusiasm for their topics. Among my favourites are the episodes with Cindy Rollins, and Angelina Stanford. Don’t miss this encouraging podcast!

  • Great
    by WifeyKayla from United States

    Some great interviews and very helpful for figuring out the flow of our mornings.

  • Interesting ideas
    by Lisa1932 from Canada

    Just started this podcast. There are some very interesting ideas here on how to create quality time with your children, learning together and focusing on the things that are most important in life. Great hearing other moms' stories too.

  • WARNING: This podcast will revolutionize your homeschool!
    by JoysTeacher from United States

    Honestly, I started listening to this podcast because I had run out of other homeschool podcasts to listen. I really didn't think we needed a morning time! I homeschool one teen daughter and I thought the concept was too "baby" for us. WOW! I was completely wrong!! We needed a morning time, and it has changed the climate and the productivity of our homeschool. The habit was so important to us, we still do morning time when we are one break. (And neither of us is a "morning" person). Pam is an talented interviewer and will not waste your time (her time is precious, too)!

  • Excellent!
    by Jodylleigh from United States

    I'm really enjoying the ideas and tips Pam bring up in this podcast!

  • Truly an inspiration!
    by Soaring2him from United States

    I have started a morning basket just because of listening to this podcast. Pam sold me on the beauty of having a morning basket. I love all of the ideas I've gleaned from listening and I've implemented many of the ideas I have heard about through this podcast. It's really helped simplify some things in our homeschool day!

  • Easy to listen too, incredibly practical
    by HarrisFamily0323 from United States

    I really enjoy Your Morning Basket. Pam is a great host and I have taken away many practical ideas and had many unrealistic expectations corrected. I don't listen to all the episodes, but the ones I've thought were pertinent to my needs and have been able to apply something helpful to our homeschool. Thanks Pam!

  • So helpful for this new homeschooling mom
    by klund08 from United States

    I'm planning our first homeschool year and have really enjoyed this podcast! The interviews are great and I enjoy hearing from different homeschooling moms and how things work in their family. I'm excited to start Morning Time with my kids!

  • You've made my school year!
    by Lizzie O' from United States

    Pam, I wrote you an email when I first felt it placed on my heart to homeschool my now 6 & 8 year old children and you responded with a warm response. I then began to listen to every podcast you have (all 3!) and I have been so very inspired and encouraged in so many ways that it would take up too much time here to explain it all. This Morning Basket podcast is really a light for me and my children as not only are they the recipients of our mornings of gathering but so am I. I have learned so much from your guests (and you!) and have been able to take tips/ideas to add to what my own mornings look like. We truly have experienced Truth, Goodness and Beauty. God certainly has chosen you for this type of work and serving to others. Thank you for what you do!

  • Thanks Pam!
    by BraveMomma from United States

    So many great ideas every single week! Thanks!

  • Truth, goodness, and beauty
    by I'm Sonny from United States

    Need I say more? I am deeply grateful for this profound and practical resource as we seek to surround our children in the truth, in goodness, and in things beautiful. I leave feeling encouraged, refreshed, determined and equipped.

  • Very encouraging
    by .....hk..... from United States

    So helpful with recommendations for new things to do in morning time.

  • A wonderful podcast full of useful tips!
    by Klarnold79 from United States

    I have listened to almost every episode over the last few months on my morning runs and they have made me look forward to running! I have learned so much and have been inspired to add truth, goodness and beauty to our homeschool days. Thank you so much!!

  • Wow! Talk about a solid series!
    by KastenbauerFamily from United States

    Each episode is fabulous alone, and when you've been listening for a while, they all continue to be full of new information!

  • Hope for the weary
    by MomToTheMasses from United States

    I enjoy the variety of topics covered as well as Pam's cheerful personality. Thank you for being a cup of cold water for so many homeschool mamas.

  • Great guests and host
    by My Life as a Rinnagade from United States

    I love the people Pam has on and all the great morning time tips! Thanks for a wonderful show :).

  • Mamma of Five
    by Mamma of Five from United States

    The ideas, information and encouragment that Pam shares through the different guests and talking about the purpose and practice of Your Morning Basket has been a huge blessing to our family. Helped me to practically see how to bring truth, beauty, and goodness to our day.

  • Great Homeschool Resource
    by KS Becky R from United States

    I have just started listening and am gaining so much knowledge and practical advice. I can't wait to keep listening to more.

  • Really great!
    by BeeGerW from United States

    I love hearing all these ideas!

  • californiafamily
    by californiafamily from United States

    I absolutely love Your Morning Basket podcasts. Pam interviews excellent people & so far, I've incorporated information from each podcast & have purchased many items that the interviewee's suggest. I think all families could benefit from this even if they don't homeschool! Thank you so much!

  • Love Pam's podcasts
    by Flourishing Mama from United States

    There are many homeschool related podcasts that I enjoy, both for their content and the host. But I must say that Pam Barnhill's podcasts are top-notch for the following reasons: 1) the content is both relevant AND in-depth, 2) she NEVER interrupts the guest speakers with incessant (annoying) "uh huhs," "ummms," and such, 3) she provides multiple lists and links to supplemental materials that are really useful and interesting, and 4) she shares forms she's created even though she could make you pay for them. She has a gift for tapping in to the issues homeschool moms are REALLY dealing with. Thanks Pam. Keep up the good work!

  • First Things First
    by Lukenoah from United States

    Every episode inspires me to start my day bringing my children the true the good and the beautiful through our family time.

  • So helpful!
    by jofcrich from Australia

    Every time I see that I have a new podcast from Pam Barnhill I know it's going to be good. Every one I have listened to (which is all of them!) have helped, inspired and encouraged me in some way or another. Pam is so good at summarising what her interviewee has just spoken about; a great knack which helps me distill the main ideas from all that good conversation. I really like that she always has links to whatever is discussed so that I can go back to it in the future and find what I need.

  • Great resource
    by Ejs0928 from United States

    Such a help for a new homeschooler. Highly recommend that you check it out if you'd like to learn more about starting your day with morning time.

  • Amazing!
    by CDefnall from United States

    This podcast is filled with great information to help you take full advantage of morning time or all together time in your homeschool. It also has great tips for extending your child education whether they are in public or private school as well. We all want to aid our kids in thier success and no matter if you are a homeschool parent or a public/private school teacher this podcast will enlighten you and provide valuable information you to to better help your students.

  • Inspiring and enlightening
    by spycej from United States

    One of my favorite podcasts and I love and subscribe to all of Pam's podcasts. Thank you for the fabulous interviews.

  • Must-Listen for Homeschooling Moms
    by DaffodilSocks from United States

    This podcast has revolutionized how I homeschool my young children. A must-listen.

  • One of my favorites
    by FaithAZ from United States

    Love Pam and all of her podcasts - can't wait for new episodes!

  • Great Ideas
    by Hiphooray from United States

    Just found this podcast and have been listening to them over the summer break. Pam is a great host and has fun guests and together they bring a lot of inspiration to the concept of morning time in homeschool. Thanks for the great resource!!

  • TaraVos
    by TaraVos from United States

    I would not be exaggerating if I said that I have learned so much from this practical, encouraging podcast that has changed our homeschool. Thank you Pam!

  • Lots of useful information
    by Kristizy from United States

    This podcast does a great job finding guests who give a ton of practical help to make morning time enjoyable and educational for everyone. I always feel reenergized after listening to any of Pam Barnhill's podcasts.

  • <3!!!
    by Momo35556 from United States

    I love this podcast! So helpful and encouraging.

  • Lovely & Inspiring
    by kashley75 from United States

    Thank you so much for this podcast!

  • Such a wealth of information!
    by Jeaine6 from United States

    There is so much wonderful information to be found in these podcasts. I can go about my daily chores and fill my homeschool mom cup simultaneously! They allow me to look at areas of our hs that need improvement or just need new life and feel encouraged while I'm listening. Thank you!!

  • Encouraging & inspiring
    by God's Ranch Hand from United States

    So thankful for this podcast! I look forward to listening to each episode when it comes out.

  • Homeschool Professional Development!
    by Jo.W.17 from Canada

    As a new-ish homeschooling mama, I've found this podcast super encouraging and helpful. I would highly recommend it!

  • So Helpful!
    by KGMom2Four from United States

    I love the practical application that comes from this podcast! Thanks!

  • A Lovely Show!
    by Webseitler from United States

    This podcast has become my most favorite podcast on the subject of homeschooling. The topics discussed often go right to the heart of why I'm doing what I'm doing in our home--and God has really used the great advice shared in this show to help me be a more confident (and calmer!) teacher. Thank you, Pam, for creating such a great program! Already looking forward to next season.

  • Awesome homeschooling resource!
    by Liddleladie81 from United States

    This podcast has absolutely changed my perspective on homeschooling, in a great way! All of the guests have been wonderful and I leave each episode feeling both sad that it is already over, and encouraged and excited to figure out how I can use what I’ve learned! It has a great flow to it, very light but meaningful, informative, encouraging….I could go on and on! Absolutely LOVE this podcast! Thanks to all involved!

  • Great hosts!
    by Homeschool_chat from United States

    I always look forward to this podcast!

  • Practical, helpful & concise tips
    by sproutnchic from United States

    This podcast continues to help. I appreciate the Pam Barnhill's professional, organized, yet warm interviewing style of some well-picked guests.

  • So refreshing and helpful
    by a. borealis from United States

    I've really appreciated the depth and breadth of Pam's look into Morning Time and also the practical ideas and tools to make it work. It is so inspiring! It helps me think through my own Circle Time, realizing what an opporunity I have. There are so many great ideas for additions and tweaking my approach. I am loving it.

  • Awesome!
    by Apples20091 from United States

    This podcast has been so helpful and packed full of practical ideas to use with my children!! Some of the episodes I have listened to more than once!!

  • Encouraging and Motivating!
    by Cat11223 from United States

    Pam makes this morning time concept so attainable! She gives great ideas but simple ways to begin. These tips and recommendations reach far beyond just morning time and are benefiting our entire homeschool and family life!

  • So many ideas!
    by Speterson781 from United States

    This podcast is full of amazing ideas to grab my kids attention first thing in the morning. I love listening to Pam and her guests. Pam asks such great questions of her guests!

  • A Favorite for Homeschool Encouragement!
    by JamesDWitmer from United States

    I have been so encouraged by Pam's podcasts on Morning Time. She walks you through many of the wonderful activities that you can choose to include in your homeschooling, and also the details about how to do it! It has truly been a blessing. Thanks Pam!

  • Perfect for the Homeschool Mom
    by JoshJamie from United States

    I just stumbled upon the "Your Morning Basket" podcast this weekend. I have already listened to 2 episodes, and they are wonderful - perfect for the homeschool mom. I am going to share this on my Periscope channel tomorrow. So great!! Jamie @OurLittleSchoolhouse.

  • SongsofJubilee
    by SongsofJubilee from United States

    I love the idea of a morning basket, and this podcast has helped me learn a lot about the different ways it can look! I love all the different subjects she discusses within it!

  • Love it!
    by Ekrasovec7 from United States

    This podcast has been such a blessing to me! Informational and insightful, it opens a window into how other families incorporate morning time into their day, as well as what they fill it with. This has completely changed the rhythm and content of our days for the better. Our whole family has fallen in love with morning time! Thank you!!

  • So encouraging!
    by A Merry Heart from United States

    I absolutely love this podcast! It has been so encouraging as I begin to implement Morning Time with my 5 girls. I have listened to them all & can't wait for more!

  • This podcast has changed our homeschool
    by Momof4athome from United States

    Pam has relieved some of the pressure to "get it all in". We now begin our day with the good true and beautiful in an almost effortless way and are all enjoying our time together before the "serious" subjects! Yay for the morning basket! Her guests are all lovely people you would want to have over for tea. I love this podcast.

  • Refreshing
    by Bless-Us-3 from Canada

    I am loving this podcast. I just stumbled across it after hearing the recommendation over at Read Aloud Revival. I have been wanting to start 'Morning Time' for a year now so this is giving me direction and so many wonderful and helpful tips and suggestions. I love Pam's enthusiasm and personality.

  • So helpful and inspiring!
    by KSR1 from United States

    I was lucky enough to find YMB and Pam’s other podcast, Homeschool Snapshots, when I started my first year of homeschool this year. These 2 podcasts have been SO helpful to me with getting ideas for morning time and the rest of our homeschool day. I am very grateful for the excellent work Pam has done on both of these podcasts, and I hope they continue for many more years!

  • Inspiring
    by Jaranda98 from United States

    This podcast was inspiring and encouraging. It was a good blend of practical and theoretical and exactly what this tired homeschool mom needed to hear today to rejuvenate.

  • An inspiring and encouraging podcast
    by Kellibird1111 from United States

    Very well done! I really enjoyed listening! Very practical and informative.

  • Honey for the Homeschooling Heart
    by SuperNOVAmom from United States

    Pam lays out a feast of homeschooling topics that are relevant, helpful, and validating. The show is well organized and her interviews are clearly well thought out. In addition, Ms. Barnhill's relaxed and warm personality puts one at ease. It's like going to your favorite homeschool conference without leaving home!

  • I love this podcast, great content!
    by Sara V from United States

    These podcasts helped transform our homeschooling!

  • Great parenting resource
    by sullivanjessicak from United States

    I absolutely love this podcast. The show is well organized with great guests and helpful information.

  • Thank you!
    by Nasiatel from United States

    I'm so happy that I found your podcast, it has truly blessed our homeschool life!

  • Wonderful help in my homeschool
    by BT and Jessica from United States

    This is a great resource for all homeschoolers (and I would say any educator). I am challenged to make sure I am giving my children truth, beauty and virtue through the morning ritual of our morning time. I’ve learned of new books to share with my children, how to incorporate fine arts, good habits for our day… I could go on and on. Pam asks great questions and has wonderful guests.

  • Top Notch
    by Wvshaddox from United States

    Excellent inspiration and tips for homeschoolers! I have learned so much from this podcast.

  • Great Morning Time tips!
    by redhedcatie from United States

    I have gotten SO many practical tips from this podcast! A must listen for homeschoolers!

  • So Inspiring!
    by Frau Linds from United States

    Another home-run podcast! Pam has a knack for inspiring great things in your homeschool! And the wonderful thing is she doesn't leave you with the "lofty ideal," but offers practical tips, aids, etc. all while encouraging you the whole way. Each interview is professionally done and such a joy to listen to! Thanks, Pam, for putting your heart into this! 🙂

  • Wonderful!
    by Kellybireta from United States

    Like having a cup of coffee with a friend. So helpful and informative.

  • Excellent practical advise!
    by Foxycook from United States

    Really enjoying this so far!

  • Very encouraging!
    by WMGardener from United States

    This was been a great podcast about Morning Time! How encouraging and informative to hear from other homeschool moms who are in the midst of it all!

  • A great resource!
    by gejake from United States

    Very inspiring and informative as I begin my homeschooling journey

  • Love This Podcast
    by Earthmuffins from United States

    I have finally had opportunity to listen to this podcast and regret not doing it sooner!!! Very informative and encouraging.

  • Full of Goodness, Truth and Beauty
    by CJMance from United States

    This is such an inspiration to get the beautiful ritual of morning time established. Thank you Pam!

  • Great Podcast!
    by Greggtrisha from United States

    I'm so excited about this podcast! My kids range from ages 4 - 11, and I've been needing to reduce my workload a bit. I'm using the fantastic things I'm learning here to combine all my kids together for read-alouds, Bible time, memorization, and some other fun things. Thanks so much, Pam! I love your other podcast as well!

  • Treasure
    by TasmanianBec from Australia

    I am so glad I found this podcast. Morning Basket / Circle Time / Morning Time - lots of interviews with families who make this part of their day a treasure for years to come. Just getting started homeschooling, and this is going to help shape our days. Thanks Pam.

  • Jeannie in Ohio
    by Jeannie in Ohio from United States

    Loving learning about how so many families are using Morning Time in their homes!

  • Wonderful ideas for creating your best morning time.
    by Flowerpetal2 from Australia

    The ideas presented here are wonderful, it's great to hear how different families put together their morning time and how we can all make this a rich but simple time of beauty in our schooling days.

  • Excellent Host
    by meghanlou from United States

    Pam Barnhill is a truly excellent host and producer of podcasts. They are a pleasure to listen to, full of applicable and inspirational content. Unlike other podcasts in this genre, which are produced at home, Pam's podcasts never make me cringe because of awkward pauses or bad sound quality. Another of Pam's strengths is her ability to reflectively listen and summarize what she's heard from her guests in a way that wraps up the different segments of her interviews. Well done, Pam!

  • Helpful and fun!
    by HornGal88 from United States

    We’re just starting out with morning time and this podcast has been an invaluable source of inspiration and ideas. Keep up the good work!

  • LOVE IT!
    by sassercj from United States

    I’m always counting down the days until the next podcast…one of the best homeschooling podcasts out there!

  • Among the Best I’ve Heard
    by More Like Mary from United States

    I’m a bit of a podcast junkie so when I say that this is among the best, that’s really a compliment! Pam is an excellent interviewer. She re-states main ideas and summarizes information in a way that is helpful and not condescending. She asked poignant questions and stays on topic. Her guests are phenomenal and I’ve learned so much from each episode. So far, this podcast is “big picture” homeschooling talk with lots of tips for implementing lofty ideals into daily life. The perfect combination. I will be looking forward to many more of these!

  • Gave me the tools I needed!
    by Momofmany:) from United States

    This podcast is amazing. (I am spoiled now; the quality alone is superb!) I have listened to the four current episodes several times and now understand "morning time" in a way I never have before-- in particular, the schole part. I've longed for restful learning for ten years, and now I have tools to actually do it. Our whole family has benefitted so much. Thank you, Pam!!

  • What’s important
    by sncstraub from United States

    Pam Barnhill’s new podcast on Morning Time is a great help to those of us who are homeschooling. I’ve only listened to the first episode so far, but it’s wonderfully encouraging to hear Cindy Rollins’ talking through her own experiences with Morning Time. I’m looking forward to listening to more episodes with others who are focusing their schools on the important things - the true, good, and beautiful.

  • New listener and hooked!
    by Bytesofmemory from United States

    I just started listening to the first podcast this morning and I am completely hooked on this podcast. I took the advice in the first podcast and just started with morning time. Instead of trying to “give birth to an adult” morning time I just started doing something and will add things in as this becomes a habit. Thanks for the wonderful tool!! I am now off to listen to episode 2!!

  • Great!
    by Wvshaddox from United States

    Encouragement for homeschool.

  • A Gift to the Homeschool Community
    by HGPII from United States

    This podcast is so well done, informative, and just what the homeschooling moms needs. It includes achievable, sound suggestions as well as an abundant dose of inspiration. I can’t wait to revamp my Morning Time and watch the results!

  • Encouraging and informative!
    by sarahdempsen from United States

    I have enjoyed Your Morning Basket from its first episode! I am a second generation homeschooler and just started our own family's homeschooling journey. Thanks to YMB, I implemented our "circle time" starting our second week of school and it has been such a blessing to me already even its very simple form of prayer, Psalm, Mother Goose, and then read-aloud time with my kindergartner. My 2 and 4 year olds also love it and it encourages me to include things in our day that might get left out, like nursery rhymes and simple children's songs! Thanks to Pam and YMB I feel like I am starting out with a great centering tool and routine that can be expanded and adapted as we grow!

  • A great resource!
    by Bookgirl630 from United States

    Your Morning Basket Podcast is a great resource for to help implement morning time into your homeschool day. I have enjoyed every episode so far.

  • Thank you for wonderful bonus at the end!
    by Caj312 from United States

    I just discovered this show and listened to the first 4 episodes. All were inspiring and I loved the useful links at the end of the show that help me improve my homeschool days! Well done and I look forward to the next episode.

  • One of my VERY favorites
    by Dianna @ The Kennedy Adventure from United States

    I’m a bit of a podcast junkie, but YMB ranks among my very, very favorites. If you’re a homeschooling mother, or a mom who wants to connect with your children and show them truth, goodness and beauty, this is a must listen. Kudos, Pam, on a another amazing podcast series.

  • Timely
    by AggieRudy3 from United States

    I’ve been trying to figure out morning time on my own, but Pam with this podcast has figuratively sat down with me and explained how to get things going. I’m so glad to have this resource at the beginning of my family's homeschool journey! The Basket Bonuses have also been so helpful.

  • Thanks!
    by heyh2 from United States

    Thanks for the new podcast. Loving it!

  • Wonderful podcast with practical advice
    by Victorzvaliant from United States

    Thank you Pam for a great podcast, I am really enjoying it. I always come away inspired and with ideas I can use!

  • Changed our Homeschool Morning routine
    by HeatherinSC from United States

    I have been listening to the Your Morning Basket podcasts recently and Pam's blog writings about creating morning time traditions with your children and I feel like it has made a huge positive difference in our homeschool. I love Pam's ideas for creating a restful learning environment and focusing on truth, goodness, and beauty as we begin our day together. I listen to these podcasts over and over and take notes!

  • Excellent for homeschooling veterans and newbies
    by ASnow512 from United States

    I'm very new to homeschooling and I'm still deciding if our family will pursue that path. This podcast has been such a wealth of information and a wonderful encouragement!

  • Inspiring and Uplifting
    by vabjohnson from United States

    I was immediately inspired to create a more cohesive structure to our homeschool mornings. This podcast is full of helpful suggestions to make morning time meaninful for every type of homeschooling family. I've already implemented many of the wonderful suggestions and I can already see the benefits! An absoulte must for the homeschooling family!

  • Bringing Joy
    by Louisiana Mommy T from United States

    What an amazing podcast! This podcast has wonderful suggestions for bringing joy to (or back to) your homeschool. Everything is doable and enjoyable for the children and parents alike. Keep up the wonderful work!

  • Great podcast!
    by corew50 from United States

    This is our first year of homeschooling and I am really enjoying the concept of morning time. It is a sweet way to start our day together and this podcast has been amazing! Enjoyable, super practical, and filled with lots of creative ideas. Thanks for creating it.

  • Inspiring, yet practical
    by mamato3cs from United States

    Pam's Your Morning Basket podcast is one not to be missed! She and her guests inspire and spur me on to do great things in our homeschool, but it's not just adding more to my to-do list. There are practical suggestions for how to make morning time a refreshing and vital part of our day.

  • Super Helpful & Encouraging
    by Sanibel4ever from United States

    I have been homeschooling for a many years. I like that I can count on Pam to make to make it worth my while (and my short amount of time!) for a listen. As always, practical info I can start using right away.

  • Great Poscast
    by Sarah B R from United States

    Love Pam's interviews. I learn much from each poscast!

  • A Joy to Listen to!
    by Cude 🙂 from United States

    I am thoroughly enjoying this new podcast! I love to listen to people who encourage me on my homeschooling journey and I have added Your Morning Basket to my list.

  • JUST what I needed!!!
    by Foodie in Training from United States

    This is our first year homeschooling (Kinder) and this podcast has been INCREDIBLY helpful and a GREAT source of information!!! I cannot wait for more to come! <3 THANK YOU!!!!

  • Practical - worth a listen!
    by Bloggerific! from United States

    As a homeschooling mom of 6, my free time is limited. But I always come away with some practical, useful tips from Pam Barnhill. I love to listen if I’m alone in the car (rare these days!).

  • Well done [FIRST NAME]
    by MattMcWilliams from United States

    WOW… Your Morning Basket Podcast is flat out awesome. Good production quality. Easy to listen. Very impressed Pam. Keep bringing it.

  • Inspiring and refreshing!
    by BugTurner from United States

    What a great podcast. At first I was dubious whether you could have an entire podcast series about homeschooling using morning time, but now that I have listened to two of them, I see where Pam is going with this. It is affirming for me in what I am trying to do in our homeschool, and at the same time inspires me in ways to improve and refine our time together as a homeschooling family. I would recommend this to anyone who is looking to simplify their homeschool efforts while simultaneously enriching their family's experience!

  • Brilliant
    by SHTirm from United Kingdom

    I absolutely love it. Ever since I read about morning time, I wanted to know more. This podcast clearly explains what to do and how to do it. Episode with Cindy Rollins was brilliant. It gives you the overall idea of morning time practice, as she is doing it for 27 years. Andrew Pudewa in second episodes shared some insights about memorisation, which really makes so much sense. Pam asks clear questions and then repeats the main points in answer, which is very helpful, especially for new homeschooling mums. Overall this programme has everything one can ask for to get inspired and motivated. Thanks very much for putting so much effort. Well done.

  • Excellent!
    by RC5476 from United States

    I have really appreciated everything Pam Barnhill puts out. I have been introduced to so many great homeschoolers and their resources through The Homeschool Snapshots podcast, and I love that she is digging deeper into a great homeschooling practice on her new show, Morning Basket. It is definitely on my Must Listen list each week!

  • Bring the best you to your homeschool
    by mystiewinckler from United States

    Our Morning Time is the best part of our homeschool, and Pam’s podcast helps us learn how to make it even better and encourages us to pursue the true, good, and beautiful still more. So helpful!

  • Inspiring!
    by Mamato8 from United States

    I've only recently found out about Morning Baskets, after 14 years of homeschooling. What a find! And now to have these podcasts to help guide me along on my new journey! I've been sharing this like crazy, and my morning routine is fabulous now! Thank You!

  • Education to Educate
    by Isaac in St Louis from United States

    I have gained so much from these first two early podcasts. I am grateful to you, Pam. Thank you for offering this as we strive to fulfill our sacred duty and privilege to give our children an education. Please continue. I see such great things coming from this. I rank this up their with Circe’s offerings.

  • Wonderful
    by BGTwinsMom from United States

    When you're on the homeschool "circuit" it's easy to become one of Andrew Pudewa's groupies. So the excitement level for Pam's newest podcast doubled when I opened it on my iPhone and saw Andrew's name. I was remiss in not reviewing her first segment. Pam is a wonderful interviewer and has the ability to make conversation with her guests based on their answers and move seamlessly to her following questions. That is not easy to do. Highly recommend this to parents who Homeschool. Encouraging, motivating, and validating.

  • So Inspiring!
    by bethenyn from United States

    So inspiring! This podcast is what I needed to get our homeschool off to a great start this year. I will not miss an episode.

  • Inspiring and thought provoking!
    by Pascualamb from United States

    I've always thought memory work was so important in my 8 years as a teacher in a high school setting. I often required memorization and was criticized for this requirement. I recently decided to homeschool my children and this podcast was so affirming to me. I am glad to be able to follow my instincts as a teacher and give my kids what they deserve! Thank you for this wonderful podcast that inspired me to make memory work an important part of my homeschool.

  • Affirming & helpful
    by BOLDturquoise from United States

    I knew I would enjoy this podcast but I didn't know that I would LOVE it! As our family has moved more and more towards a simplified homeschool method, this podcast is just the thing to reaffirm our choices and continuously inspire us with new ideas. I can't wait for each new episode!

  • Inspiring
    by Amongst Lovely Things from United States

    This is just the kind of podcast I need to breathe life into my homeschool year. I’m so grateful for this new show, and Pam is a talented host. I won’t miss an episode!

  • Delightful...a Must Listen
    by 1coltsfamily from United States

    While I have heard Cindy Rollins speak about morning time before, I was pleasantly surprised to glean many new nuggets of wisdom that I can incorporate right away into our morning time. I always enjoy listening to Pam and find her questions spot on! The podcast is a wonderful balance of inspiration and practical tips. Can't wait for the next one!

  • Your Morning Basket
    by inakamama from Australia

    So lovely and inspiring! Looking forward to more...

  • Helpful & inspiring!
    by starlingsfive from United States

    A great resource for homeschool moms and so well put-together. Full of useful information, not fluff. Pam has a wonderful conversation style that keeps the show moving at a steady pace. I wish I didn't have to wait so long for the next one!



  • Emily says:

    how do i get the free bookmark?
    many thanks

  • Karen says:

    Great show! I have a question for Sonya. Sonya, you shared as part of the 5 step narration process, to pick out two or three key words, write them on the board, and then ask the child to be watching for those words. What if, in doing that, the child focuses so much on listening for those particular words and then doesn’t pick up on much else in the reading? Or maybe they only pick up on the sentence or two where the key words are used?

    Thanks for a great show. I am working on narration with my youngest and this show was so helpful!

  • Karen says:

    Sorry….when I say in my comment above the sentence or two where the key words are found, I mean that maybe they can only tell you basically what has been read where those key words are found. Does that make sense?


  • Cassie W. says:

    I just listened to this podcast after putting it off for so long because I thought I already knew it all about narration. ; ) But, I learned some new stuff and understood thing better! I even have Sonya’s book on narration. There were some things I’ve been meaning to look up in her book for a couple of months now and those were covered in the podcast (4 types of narrations) so that was helpful for me to final check that task off my to-do list. Right on time since we have end-of-term examinations next week and I need to write the exams. My lesson learned is that I was wrong not to listen to a podcast because I thought I knew it all because there is always more to learn! : )

  • Aubrey Carey says:

    A few questions:
    Do you have a few just for fun read alouds and then one you do narration with daily? Or can you read a chapter, do some narration the next day, etc? It will drive myself and my 11 year old crazy to read such short passages esp in an interesting book?
    Ive got one 6 year old who is a struggling reader but seems to be able to more easily recall a story (usually he draws or dictates to me), and an 11 year old who cant stand the thought of not having ONE RIGHT answer, open ended questions, etc. As she told me the other day, I NEED workbook pages and fill in the blanks. She reads a ton, reads fast, BUT can not seem to recall (or either is scared to mess up so says she cant?) Much about any story she reads??
    Im new to homeschooling and new to narration.
    We are just starting out and ive been reading the narration q and a series on SCM today and listened to this..

  • Angela says:

    This was great! Thank you! I thought I listened to everything on narration, but I still had questions. This answered them and gave me so much more I never even thought of.

  • Rebecca says:

    Pam, thank you so much. Finally! I am understanding narration! I just began homeschooling in the fall, and your website and podcast have helped me so much! I tried Sonya’s 5 steps for successful narration today. We began reading A Midsummer Night’s Dream, so I wrote “Hermia & Lysander, Demetrius & Helena” on the whiteboard. I’m sure it helped my children follow the story, and their narrations improved so much! They didn’t want to stop when our time was up!

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