Storytelling IS the ORIGINAL way to help children learn about values, people, history, concepts, almost anything. The best teachers throughout history, and across cultures, were good storytellers. Stories may now be presented in books, in movies, or even on CD-ROM, but the joy of telling the story person to person goes beyond the story, it sets up a bond between the tellers and listeners that just FEELS right. Tellers can see when the eyes register understanding, and can modify the story to the people and issues at hand. Never underestimate the power of a STORY !!!
PLUS, it’s SUMMER. This is a great time for storytelling ! Make it a summer of collecting and telling stories. Tell stories at the beach while building a sand castle together. Tell stories around the campfire (even in your own back yard.) This is actually a HUGE topic, there are multiple year courses in Storytelling, and professionals that would BLOW your socks off. But here, we are just parents… with children who love stories. How to start???
Even if your child is just an infant – Look at them in the eyes, and with an expressive voice, and full body gestures, tell them – well, ANY STORY – personal, historical, classic nursery, cultural. Best TIP: make it something that you are enthusiastic about. They will be enthralled to listen to you tell them something… well, something other than what they are supposed to be doing, or not doing, at the moment. Another good tip: ANYTIME is a good time, but Bedtime is a GREAT time.
THEN let the CHILD tell you their stories, even if it is just what happened when they found a caterpillar on the ground, or if they simply retell a familiar story, like the 3 Little Pigs. When they can tell a good story, have them call Grandma to tell her the story too. I’ll bet she has a good one to tell in return.
Create family FAVORITES, and tell them regularly. Write them down, VIDEO them, anything to keep the stories alive ! We even have a funny family story that someone drew a comic strip about. These are treasures that will last a lifetime, and will give a child a good foundation for understanding who they are and how they fit into this world. When children have a solid sense of belonging, they are less likely to find their identity elsewhere.
Initiate telling a story – without using pictures or a book.
Choose a story you are familiar with – a classic such as The Three Little Pigs, or a personal story, something funny that may have happened to you as a child. Another good choice might be to retell one of their favorite book stories, which you might have read a hundred times already (Quick TIP: Be prepared to be corrected if you deviate from any specific words – just tell them, “I’m telling the story, and I’ll tell it my own way. It’s OK!”)
Set up the child(ren) in a place where they can see you clearly, but not easily distracted by items close by, (or able to get away easily). I used to tell stories to James while he was in his high chair eating a meal, or while sitting in his stroller, or lying in bed. (The High Chair is the baby object I miss the most. We had such fun times when he couldn’t run away).
Just start telling the story. It doesn’t matter if you tell it absolutely right. It matters more HOW you tell it.
- Talk in an animated way – with a lot of emotion and motion. Have the “characters” speak using different voices (higher, lower, nasal, breathy, etc.)
- Keep good eye contact. Look around to illustrate a point, but always return to their eyes.
- Move around using your arms, body, and facial expressions. This may be uncomfortable at first if you are not used to it, but your child makes a great audience, and will LOVE IT !!!
- Feel free to embellish, to connect with something they like, or to make a point, or simply to make it even more fun for you. Goldilocks may have been air dropped by helicopter into the forest by her red-headed Aunt Gertrude, after she was TOOO picky to eat the food served to her and wouldn’t go to sleep.
Kindermusik offers a special summer adventure camp, called TELL ME A TALE for big kids (4 ½ – 8 years old) that tunes in to some fabulous stories from around the world – expanding on them with sound effects, MUSIC, crafts, costumes, and dramatic play. I am excited to be offering that camp this summer – in the afternoons during the week of July 19. See more details on my website: http://musiconnx.yourvirtuoso.com . Enroll right away, there are only a few spots left.
Stay TUNED to get the lowdown for the benefits of storytelling, AND for fun, creative story telling activities for families !
How does YOUR child respond to the stories you tell ???