This weekend marks the end of the 13th annual National Storytelling Week, organised by the Society for Storytelling to promote the oldest art form of oral storytelling. Before humans were writing, all knowledge had to be passed down orally and storytelling formed a fundamental part of knowledge transfer. Even with writing, storytelling plays an essential role in learning for our little ones - children learn through stories long before they are able to read or write.
Make sure that you are telling stories to your little ones all the time, and not just during National Storytelling Week! Even babyies who are too young to understand what is being said will benefit from constant exposure to oral communication. They will hear words and they will hear expression, and this all helps on that long journey towards being able to communicate themselves.
Find time in your daily routine to sit down with children and read stories. Make up stories and retell familiar tales in your own words. Older children might have fun by telling you stories in return, or by changing tales they are familiar with to give them a surprise outcome.
If you haven't done naything for National Storytelling Week so far then see if you can catch any activities at the weekend. See if your local library has some events on and go and join the fun...
If your little ones don't have the best concentration, or seem to tire quickly from monotonous work, then spice up their involvement by choosing fun locations where they can do their colouring, shapes, letter practice and so on. Some children are naturally challenged with arduous tasks such as practicing their letters or colouring in pictures, others get bored rather too quickly. If you have difficulty encouraging your little ones to settle down to do their work then try doing it outside at a garden table, or in the park at a picnic table. Maybe create a camp from a few old sheets draped around bushes, or if the weather forces you inside, drape a sheet or towels over a clothes airer. No space is too small for your little ones to cram in. They will enjoy it all the more if they are hidden from you.
Tasks such as colouring, writing, constructing jigsaws and the like take time and concentration. Many children don't persevere at these tasks for the time required but they are really important activities in order to encourage fine motor skills and problem solving, indeed, to help with concentration.
Build your little ones an 'office' space and tell them that they are 'going to work', something that they see parents doing. Young children love to mimic grown-ups and this will give them a sense that they are doing what you do. Relocate to a cafe, the local library or the park. Make an adventure of basic tasks and you will find that your children quickly lap up the excitement of doing otherwise very ordinary activities in a different setting.
Local libraries offer a fabulous resource, but at a time of severe funding cuts, there's every danger that your local library may be targeted for closure. When evaluating the value of local services, local authorities will look at how well utilised their services are. If you want to keep your local library open, then make sure you are using it and are appearing on the local radar!
- Make sure you and your children are enrolled so that you are counted when the council investigate how many people use the library
- Make sure that you borrow books regularly to help contribute to healthy lending rates
- Attend special events laid on for children during half terms and holidays
- If your library doesn't hold craft days or readings, see if you can help organise some during holiday periods
- If your library has a cafe or toddler group, make sure you use them, even if only occasionally
- Spend time in your library with your children, take them in and read to them in the library
Local libraries offer all sorts of services in addition to simply lending books. It would be a shame to lose these facilities, yet they can only be justified if they are being used. Make sure that you use your library with your children, and help local authorities justify keeping libraries open so that your children's children can one day enjoy them too!
World Book Day 2010 falls on Thusday, 4th March (in the UK) and events all over the country are already underway to embrace and celebrate reading, why not attend an event in your area? The World Book Day website has a list of events largely focused on public libraries. If your children don't already borrow books from your library, then this offers the perfect opportunity to join up and introduce your children to the wonders of books!
World Book Day was designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading. In the UK events are organised by a charity with financial backing from National Book Tokens, publishers and booksellers. The aim is to encourage children to explore the pleasures of reading and encourage book ownership. World Book Day is celebrated in over 100 countries, although most countries celebrate it on St. George's Day (April 23rd).
Even if there aren't any events local to you, you can always organsie your own World Book Day event in your own home! Why not dress your children as characters from their favourite books and have a special reading in the afternoon where you read their favourite books to them? Visit the shops and let them choose a new book to buy, or arrange with friends to lend your favourite stories to each other so that you can share the delights of your own library!
If you're looking for a cheap day out with your toddlers, why not take a trek to your local library? Enroll yor children and see what fun stuff is available. Not only a world of fantastic books awaits, but there will probably be a selection of children's music, spoken word story CD's plus all sorts of fun films. Ask you child to choose what film they fancy and go home with some popcorn to watch it together! Some libraries even have toys, games and puzzles to borrow so you can try out new games before you buy them! Watch out for special events they may hold during the holidays, like visits from authors, story readings and other group activities they might be organizing. Remember, it's mostly free!