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If you have ever been told events by toddlers who have just learned to speak, you'll know that some of the key facts are blurted out in a relatively random order, whilst other key facts are forgotten, leading to a situation where stories are garbled and difficult to understand! ...often with hilarious consequences!
Describing events and objects, telling stories and giving directions require narrative skills that must be learned. Reading stories helps to form those skills, but probably more important is that you interact with children and have them practice describing a story by asking a little bit at a time and prompting them in a linear route through the narrative. For example, ask a young child directions to walk to the park, and they will probably give up after the first 20 yards! Ask them step by step and you will probably get there!
When we leave the house, do we turn up the hill or down the hill?
'Down the hill!'
When we get to the traffic lights, do we turn or go straight over?
When we reach the pond, do we walk around it, or walk towards the shops?
'We walk around the pond'
And when we have passed the pond, where do we arrive at if we cross the road?
Prompt using key landmarks (or facts for a story) and you will find that even children around the age of three are able to get through without too much problem. Practice over and over in different situatiuons and eventually children will gain a grasp of what is involved in telling a story, describing an event or giving directions. As adults we take these skills for granted, but it requires pretty strong mental concentration to think your way through a series of events in a coherent way!
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