Storytelling is the activity of writing or telling stories. Philip Pullman once said, “After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” At the root of it, storytelling teaches us about life, and human connection and self-expression. Children are enamoured by the magic of storytelling, as it brings a further understanding about the world around them. Stories can play an important role in early childhood education. We can learn our earliest lessons about morals and right and wrong through stories. At the very least, storytelling is a wonderful way to spark adventure and imagination in a young person.
So, why are stories so important towards child development? What are the effects of storytelling on children's learning? There are many benefits of storytelling, which we’ll highlight below:
1. Storytelling is for everyone.
Anyone can try their hand at telling a story. Stories can be about anyone or anything and come from any person. It’s also two fold; it can be shared verbally or on paper. Since it can be either spoken or written, this allows for more people to partake in the art of storytelling, including younger children who are just learning how to read. If a child doesn’t know how to read or write, they won’t feel excluded with storytelling. They can become involved by listening to someone tell stories and furthermore they can verbally participate, telling stories of their own!
From simply reflecting on their day, to making up a magical land as they play with their Legos, there are many clever ways for your child to start practicing storytelling. This type of practice will also be a big contributing factor towards helping your child start to write! Even if your child doesn’t initially write their thoughts down, they are formulating a sequence in their head which is the basis you need for writing.
At Night Zookeeper, we truly believe that everyone can become a storyteller regardless of their writing ability. We’ve gamified our learning platform to engage children with varied learning approaches. You just have to find the right ways to engage children to get them to start using their imaginations and get their content written. This is why we first ask children to draw their characters. Then, we introduce writing to children in small increments, asking them to answer questions one by one. Before they know it they’ve created a whole paragraph!
As we alluded to earlier, storytelling doesn’t have to start with speaking or writing, it can present itself in many different ways. Whether your child gets inspired by drawing to start telling stories, or perhaps your child uses unconventional materials like scribbling in the sand or arranging fridge magnets to get inspired, there are many ways to get your children to start thinking about how to express themselves. Discover some innovative ways for your child to explore different forms of expression in this article.
2. It increases literacy.
The more a child engages with stories, the more they are exposed to new words, new ideas, and the world around them. It’s important to note that this practice is not limited to children - even adults sometimes have to look words up!
By broadening their vocabulary, children then have more words to express themselves and more capacity to explore deeper meanings. By doing this, they have a higher chance of finding new ways to communicate their thoughts through their writing. This increase in literacy means that they will improve their abilities to read, write and communicate.
3. If offers more exposure to the world around them.
With storytelling, a child can travel time and space without lifting a finger. They can explore new cultures, different worlds and brand new horizons, all from the comfort of their living rooms. There are no boundaries on subject matter, journey or character arc. Storytelling invites children to get in touch with their imagination and explore their feelings! It can make your child question what they know about the world and be more open to learning new things.
4. Storytelling allows for questions.
As a parent or teacher, it’s incredibly important and beneficial to read stories to your child and to have your child share their stories with you. When you read stories together, it’s important to remember to stop and ask questions. In this article the BBC writes that it’s important to ask questions to help broaden your child’s understanding of what they are reading or listening to. When you read to your children, you can pause at any point asking if the child remembers what you’ve read. This type of practice is crucial for your child’s retention and will help them improve their own storytelling.
You can also take the time to double check that the child knows what a certain word in the story means. You can also ask deeper questions asking the child why they thought a character behaved in a certain way, or what they think will happen next?
When you work together, you can ensure that your child is not only listening, but understanding what they are hearing or reading. Setting the building blocks for retention is key. This will also help them start to develop the right foundation for their own storytelling abilities.
5. It increases empathy.
Storytelling can help expose children to people and situations they have never encountered before. It offers them the unique ability to share another person’s perspective as the storyteller and could make them rethink their current position on certain issues as a reader or listener. By sharing additional perspectives and introducing new kinds of characters from different parts of the world with different personalities, a child can practice their ability to empathize with other people.
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading some of the reasons why storytelling can be beneficial for a child’s development! If you’d like to give your child some storytelling practice, you can start them on a free trial to Nightzookeeper.com. Enjoy taking some of these reasons and applying them to your child’s reading and writing journey. Happy storytelling!