Why TELL a story – without books, without pictures – to children? Why choose to tell it face to face, instead of choosing a book, or watching a movie? A few years ago, I attended a workshop with some of my favorite storytellers, Myra Davis and Phyllis, the Peace River Tales Tandem Storytellers ***. I was overwhelmed with the positive benefits and became enlightened and motivated to become a more effective story teller – for my children, for my students, and for myself. I TRULY believe that storytelling has many of the same benefits of using good story based songs. The following is a complilation of their ideas and my experiences.
- Storytelling trains the ears and eyes to listen – As a child experiences storytelling, he is learning to be passively, yet fully engaged in an activity, and that as he watches and listens more closely, he gets more out of it. This serves to increase the attention span, and lets the child know he is an important listener. (One of the first things parents comment that they enjoy about a Kindermusik class is the increased ability of their child to listen.)
- Hearing stories with interesting and patterned speech helps break the code of language; the sounds of words, the rhythm of sentences, and the emotion of stories. This is true even with the youngest of children.
- Telling stories helps children to articulate effectively so they can be understood. It helps develop understanding of the parts of the story and builds sequencing skills.
- Positive Associations – As a child experiences an entertaining story, he/she pairs this positive emotion with storytelling, which encourages them to explore and experience it again, listening to others, perhaps even to recorded stories, and eventually telling their own.
- A Carrier of Knowledge – Just like a delicious casserolle can offer a wide variety of healthy foods that taste delicious all together, good stories can offer bits of history, geography, good morals, strong values, and insights into life in a way that NO lecture ever could.
Once the child gets older, the benefits just increase. Storytelling:
- provides opportunities for ALL ages to interact as both listeners and tellers.
- develops an awareness of and sensitivity to the thoughts and feelings of listeners and tellers
- stimulates and expands the imagination and mental visualization. (THIS is a critical feature that visual elements of picture books and movies does NOT allow for.)
- uses and develops oral language
- develops confidence in tellers of all ages
- promotes inventive thinking and problem-solving skills
- broadens the knowledge base
- generates innovative and creative responses
- increases concentration and the ability to recall information
- provides opportunities to explore diverse cultures through their folktales
- is a springboard into reading and writing activities.
Reading and writing are, and have always been an extension of storytelling. Stories used to live on through the tellers from generation to generation. Books allowed stories to continue on.
It is equally important to READ BOOKS (as I have discussed in other blog postings), as it has some similar benefits, and different benefits. GOOD audio books also have many of the same benefits as storytelling.
But the power of storytelling face to face is ever so much more full of life and interactive, allowing language and mental imagery flourish, esp. when the child can be an active part of the process.
I love carrying on the tradition, finding the stories, and passing them on. I LOVE finding and listening to exceptional storytellers. I LOVE hearing my children develop their own stories. Making our own family stories is another benefit I have TRULY embraced. But that is a WHOLE different blog posting.
*** (TANDEM storytelling will be the topic of another posting. These people take storytelling to a level of higher art.)
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 . If you live somewhere other than Polk Co. FL, try finding an educator near you that offers this program, www.kindermusik.com