Storytelling is an ancient art that has endured the test of time because it is so important in entertaining, educating and enhancing people’s lives. We know about myths, fables, fairytales and the stories of the Bible because these were passed from person to person, until people finally wrote them down. Humans tend to think, dream, plan and remember in terms of narrative. If information is displayed in a way that is structured and interactive, then the listener is likely to remember it and also form their own ideas and evaluations based upon the story.
How Storytelling Can Help Children
Making sense of life experiences – By telling stories to children they learn that experiences are interconnected, and that events happen in a series with actions and consequences. By listening to structured stories that have a beginning, development, struggle, and then consequence, children learn to understand the structure of real life experiences as well as stories.
Focus and engage – The act of telling a story that is interesting really helps to capture children’s attention and imagination. Once they are sat in front of a storyteller it changes the atmosphere of the room into one of anticipation and excitement, but it is also relaxing for children to become lost in a story. When the story is told, children feel more confident in expressing ideas and opinions about what they’ve just heard, and this consequently improves their spoken communication.
Development of imagination – Naturally, when children listen to stories it stimulates their imagination. They are able to create pathways of neurons which result in ideas. If a child is captivated by a story, then they will imagine the characters, settings and actions in their own minds. Imagination is the basis of creative thinking, as well as other thought processes such as understanding symbols, creating solutions and meaningful ideas.
Strengthened communication skills – Listening to a story exposes children to new vocabulary that they will be keen to discover the meaning of. It also stimulates their own ideas for writing stories, and they will understand the story structure when they come to write one. It encourages discussion skills, as children are questioned on their understanding once the story is finished, and they may be keen to re-tell the story themselves to family; so this will improve their memory and re-telling skills.
How You Can Be A Great Storyteller
Engaging and enthralling children through a story doesn’t just happen automatically. It is important as a storyteller to be engaging and to awaken children’s imaginations through performance. Remember to vary your voice pitch and tone depending on which characters are speaking. Make your body respond to the story by using facial expressions to depict emotion and gestures. The more charismatic you are as a storyteller, the more the audience will be absorbed into the story.
Another important aspect of storytelling that will help to engage children is telling the story in a captivating space. If it is a beautiful day, then storytelling in the school garden or a local park works wonders, as children will be stimulated by the fresh air. You could also set up a designated space in the classroom that has comfortable furniture, and even inspiring wall coverings such as drawings.
You could use a storytelling chair as the centrepiece of the story space, giving the teller a special place to sit which the children can focus on. The storytelling chairs from Free Range Designs are created from natural reclaimed wood and look enchanting with their intricate designs. Storytelling chairs give the storyteller a magical quality, and they also become the gateway between the real world and the fantasy world. As you tell the story in these chairs, you can really become a part of the tale, and children will be transfixed by the chair that transports you to different worlds.