Hi. Well it only took a year since my last post. I apologize. I simply haven’t developed the ‘ blog discipline” I need. Everyone says ” you have to have a blog”. Okay I accept that. I like sharing my thoughts and ideas. But I have to get in the habit of it. Please bear with me. I’m off to Europe on tour in a few days and will blog from ” the road”. I also promised to write about my recent trip to China to perform and I will do that too. But first I want to carry on from the last blog and talk about helping children tell stories.
I give workshops for teachers and parents on this. Here are some simple ways to help children tell stories.
The main objective of storytelling is to enlighten the human experience. Storytelling is important to the psychological, creative, social and emotional growth of children. It helps them makes sense of the world around them and inside of them. The brain organizes information in story form. It is all about story. Teachers can use this knowledge to teach in story form as much as possible. Storytelling should be a part of every school curriculum from pre-school on. It should be something every family does together.
The desire to tell, to communicate things to others, is natural and important to encourage and embrace. Children need to tell about themselves. Their main objective, and of all human beings is to know they/we are heard and valued. This does not require understanding as much as it requires listening. We must help children learn to listen and we must remember to do so ourselves.
Stories from Our Lives-How to Help Children Tell Stories
A good way to help children (or yourself) begin to tell stories is to tell stories from their lives. These will not be stories in the literal sense, with a beginning, middle, end and a plot line. These are a form of storytelling that I call personal narrative. Telling stories from our lives brings out the natural storyteller in us all. We know and feel the subject and are comfortable telling it. Everyone is generally much more descriptive when telling a personal story. This is great for language development. It is important for children to tell stories from their lives. They share their experiences, which helps them accept their feelings and understand those of others. Understanding is the foundation for tolerance.
You can pick a topic. You can, for instance, suggest a time they got hurt or were scared, when they were sad or angry. You can ask them to tell stories about their parents or pets or favorite birthday. The possibilities are endless. Please share your own stories with the children. They love it, as you probably already know.
Making Up Stories
At first you can make it simple. Make up a story for the children in which they can fill in one word here and there (if you don’t want to make one up pick a story they already know). They will begin to get used to participating in the creating of a story. For instance: Once upon a time there was a girl who lost her teddy bear. The last time she saw him he was on her________________________. She went outside into the back______________ and looked under a _______________ and a ___________ but he wasn’t there. So……..etc. You get the idea. When they get really comfortable with this you can move on to making up a story one sentence at a time. This can be done in a story circle.
You begin the story with one sentence. Each child adds another sentence. Sometimes the stories are marvelous. It is a good idea to record or video the sessions and show them to the children. You can also keep a record of their development in this way. When you get a “keeper” story they can draw pictures of the story and make a book. They can also practice telling the story and you can make up voices and movements for them to do.
This storytelling will take time to develop. As your children get used to it you can introduce concepts of storytelling; a story has a a beginning and an end. It has a who, what , why, when and where. I’ll call these the “ Five W’s”. Help them think of that when they are creating a story. After you tell them a story invite them to tell you the who, what, why, when and where that they heard in it. Be patient and keep at it throughout the year. You will be amazed and delighted with their development and how they really do ” get ” story. Being a part of children’s storytelling is a blessed and wonderful thing.