If applied in a structured way, storytelling has a tremendous power to educate, to help children learn more quickly, acquire skills and develop a love for reading.
Whenever we want children to learn things more quickly, we ought to remember that wrapping an abstract concept in an exciting story makes its understanding and acquisition much easier. Also, the moments we spend together with our children in the company of a beautiful story or an exciting character are invaluable.
What is storytelling?
Storytelling is the art of conveying both the form and the meaning of a story, in a way that creates a special connection between storyteller and listener.
In addition to narration, storytelling involves voice modulation, mime, body language and emotion. Practically, when we “spice up” a story with gestures and sounds, we are able to capture the child’s attention at a much deeper level than a simple reading would do. This is because all these create immersion and profoundly change the way in which the child interacts with the story.
The benefits of storytelling
The great advantage of storytelling is that it reduces the time children spend in front of the TV, tablet, or smartphone. In addition to deepening the bond between parent and child, the art of storytelling helps children to better communicate and develops their memory and imagination.
Improving listening and interaction. An attractive content helps, but for a story to truly capture children’s attention, it needs to be told in a way that creates emotion, amusement and surprise. All of these help the child come up with questions and observations of their own.
Increasing empathy. Stories provide children with a chance to identify with someone else – with a character and their feelings – and a chance parents to talk about different emotions, and why it is important to show care for others through gestures and language. Becoming aware of who we are and inspiring values – telling stories of past events and about each family member helps children to cherish the past, develop a sense of belonging and identity, and to become aware of their positioning in the family tree.
Techniques and opportunities for storytelling
- If time permits, browse the book before you read it to your child, to make sure you get the basic idea of the story
- Make story-time a ritual that you can share with your child in advance. Children like to know what is going to happen, and their enthusiasm will grow.
- Create a special and comfortable place for this ritual, which the child can identify as “the place for stories”. Decorate it with soft pillows and other items that you like.
- Analyze the book cover together. Questions like what can we see? What could be the book about? What do you think happens in the story? (questions may vary according to the age of the child).
- Speak as clearly as possible, perhaps slower than you usually do.
- Voice is very important when you tell a story. Adapt the volume of your voice, depending on the intensity of the story, the pauses and the whispering – all these details are effective ways to capture children’s attention and focus.
- You can interrupt the story to add comments on your everyday life or ask questions such as “Why do you think his friend’s gesture upset him?”
- After the story ends, talk a little more on the subject. Maybe there were good tips the child could apply too, maybe there are things that were left unclear and need explaining. Encourage the child to interact with you.
Transforming concepts into characters
Once concepts become characters from a story, they are internalized more easily, they can stir up emotions and let the child’s imagination thrive.
Transforming your family history into exciting stories
The evolution of your family can be transposed in living stories, with which children can easily empathize. This deepens the bond between the child and other family members and increases the child’s trust and involvement.
Inventing stories together
Developing the child’s creativity is done by involving him/her in creating your own stories. You can make use of different accessories – dolls, plasticine, picture cards help children to better visualize the content of the story. There are dozens of examples to inspire us.
Participating in storytelling events
Storytelling events are a tradition in Acorns nurseries, where our friends and guests from different backgrounds and occupations are invited to read the children a story and bring their own unique style and input as a storyteller.