As a family, we are all working together trying to focus on training our mind. We are trying to train our mind to capture every tiny detail in a passage as we are reading it. It is amazing how we all can read the same passage, but have such a different interpretation of it.
Our training began when my children were much younger. In the beginning of our school journey, as we would read a passage of topic, I would stop constantly in the middle of the reading and ask my children questions about things I would want to make sure they had comprehended. By asking those questions I was hoping to train their minds to learn how to sift the material for the nuggets it held. I wanted them to capture detail. For instance, instead of a man who was a soldier that fought in a war, I wanted them to know he was a soldier who lived in Virginia that fought in the Revolutionary war in 1783 who was under George Washington's command, etc.
It did not take many times of me doing this that my children realized what I was wanting them to focus on and could soon answer most questions that I presented to them. At their young age they would give me short choppy answers. As they grew older their answers took more form. They now can tell a passage back to me as if they were telling a story. This past year and in the up coming months, they have worked on and will be working on putting their narrations on paper.
The Art of Narration is much more than just telling a story. First, it teach's the child to develop a listening skill, which is needful their entire life. Secondly, the child is learning public speaking that will aide the child in communication skills, another trait needful for life. Thirdly, as the child develop's motor skills using pen and paper he or she can take the nuggets they collect from a passage and put them on paper. This will begin to teach the child the writing process, again, another communication tool needful for life.
These are steps I've seen developing and growing in my own children's lives. They came about all because of us trying to train our mind to sift and collect. Narration has been a process in our lives similar to panning for gold. Our mind hear's the passage, we sift it, and only keep the gold nuggets (the valuable things).
When a gold minor is sifting for gold, he is careful to watch his pan, searching for nuggets that shine. In training a mind to sift nuggets from a passage, we need to take on this same carefulness, listening to see if we can find the things that shine (things that are important) in the passage we are hearing/reading.
Over the years, the sift and collect process has been my means of testing of my children's knowledge. We've read many passages/books and my children can still tell me information that we read several years back. I would have to say that if a child's mind is trained to sift and collect information and then narrate it back in their own words, whether it be verbal or in writing, it will cause the child to retain the knowledge. It has been a proven factor in our family's life. I am a firm believer in proved and tried situations.
I would personally recommend Narration be a part of any child's life due to the benefits it could add to their future communication skills. Narration is an art that has to be worked on. It doesn't just develop over night, but it is well worth the work. Take the time after read alouds with your family to point out the plot of the passage, the setting of that passage, discuss the characters and their characteristics, talk about what is happening in the passage, point out descriptive (adjectives) words the author used, sayings a person may have spoken in the passage, etc. All of these things will teach you and your child to sift and collect information when you are reading or listening to a passage.