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...
Listening to and recounting stories is a terrific exercise for toddlers as it helps them think of a series of events and to develop their language skills. Sit down with a story that you enjoy and read it to them. At the end, ask them to act out the story themselves, with the help of a few props such as teddy bears, dolls and other relevant toys. See whether they are able to recall the story and act it through. Help them through if they struggle to remember it, you could even read the story again and again in order to help them.
Young children have the most remarkable memories and will quickly learn whole stories, such as The Gruffalo or Fix It Duck, after hearing it just a small number of times. If they can learn a book then have them recite the whole book and act along with their props. Books that rhyme are easier to learn because of their rhythm but even fairly long passages of prose can be committed to eager young memories with little practice.
Have your little ones take on the different characters in a story, and use different voices for the different roles. You can play along too, take on one of the roles, or perhaps act as narrator to tell the overall story while they act out the details.
Sending off your beloved little toddler to nursery is not easy - you can't stop thinking about them all day and when you get them back and ask what they did, they can't remember, or did "nothing" or did "playing"...it can be very frustrating!
So what can you do to get a bit more information out of your pre-schooler, or school child? Here are a few tips about how to glean a bit more detail to find out what they did while away from you.
Keep it focused and not vague
Make it two-way!
Don't force it:
Talk about your school days:
Keep it relaxed and easy:
There are lots of ways to liven up story time, both for you and your little one! Try some of these tips!
There are lots of activities you can do with your child to introduce them to reading, that don't necessarily involve learning to read in the traditional sense. Here are some tips to make learning to read an easy, fun and inspiring time for both you and your children!
Most importantly, have fun when reading with your child. Don't get annoyed if they don't understand immediately or struggle on words they knew yesterday. Certainly don't force them to read or make them do it if they're tired or not in the right mood.
Enjoy... learning to read can be so much fun and they will make you so proud when they try hard and make progress.
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