Telling stories – Parents
All children and adults use storytelling to communicate with others, store memories and build relationships.
Young children learn to tell stories by listening to the stories of others. Sharing books with adults and engaging in imaginary play scenarios are key foundation skills for developing story telling in young children. When playing, children often start by reproducing familiar life events and gradually learn to attach spoken language to these events.
Young children also learn about story telling when they are introduced to picture books. The pages of the book represent a sequence of events including a beginning, middle, and end. The carer’s spoken description of the events and relevant vocabulary teaches young children how to tell stories and that sharing a story together is enjoyable and fun.
Later on when children talk about what they have done at school, or want to tell you what has just happened at the park, they are giving a factual recount of their experiences – this is also ‘story telling’.
Often children require a good imagination to create fictional stories however the most effective way for children to develop the story-telling skill at home is by listening to and re-telling familiar stories to their family and friends. Opportunities to expand or change familiar stories can enable children to build confidence with developing their own ideas for fictional stories.
Good storytelling skills enable older children to produce interesting, engaging accounts of events from their lives (e.g. talking about a film they’ve seen, or a funny situation they experienced). Storytelling skills also underpin written work at Secondary school, as the ability to include all of the key information in a well planned and organised piece of written work is crucial in essay and report writing.
- Avoid asking your child to say something ‘properly’. Concentrate on what your child is saying, rather than how.
- Instead of correcting, give your child good ‘speech models’. For example, if your child comes up to you and says ‘I drawed a tat’, accept it by saying ‘That’s a nice cat’, ‘It’s a fluffy cat’, emphasising the word ‘cat’. In this way, you are showing your child you are listening to them and presenting them with the correct ‘speech model’.
- Stop and wait – give your child the space to have a go, and see if they repeat it on their own. Many children will, but it’s important that they do not feel forced to repeat the word.
- If you have difficulties understanding what your child is saying, ask your child to ‘show you’ what s/he is talking about, encouraging him/her to point or gesture alongside what s/he says.
- Build your child’s self-esteem by repeating back the parts of their speech that you have understood. This shows them that they have had some success and may encourage him/her to tell you more. Give praise for other things the child does well.
Babies and toddlers learn to listen to short stories within the early interaction they share with their carers
Children enjoy listening to familiar stories repeatedly at this age. Children may have a favourite book which they ask the adult to read or retell frequently. They will now be beginning to enjoy imaginary play, acting out real life scenarios.
Children will be learning some familiar stories, and may try to join in (e.g. with repetitive lines in the story). S/he will be using spoken language within imaginary play.
Your child will be starting to produce short narratives i.e.
- telling fictional stories
- recalling a story they have heard
- recalling an event that has happened to them
- talking about something they are going to do
Your child is able to:
- List events with some detail e.g. “We went to the seaside and I made the biggest sandcastle ever and we ate fish and chips on newspaper”
- Re-tell favourite stories – some parts as exact repetition and some in their own words e.g. “…going on a bear hunt, going to catch a big one, we’re not scared…and he chased them all the way home”
- Begin to add something that’s gone wrong in their own stories e.g. “…but the little boy dropped his big ice cream on the floor and he was very sad and crying…”
Your child is able to:
- Tell a story with important key components in place – so they set the scene, have a basic story plot and the sequence of events are generally in the right order
- Describe their own experiences in detail and in the right order e.g. About a holiday, weekend activities or visits
- Accurately predict what will happen in a story
- Begin to be aware of what the listener knows already and make checks while telling a story e.g. “You know Mr Jones, he’s our caretaker, he always wears a hat, well he wasn’t in school today…”
Your child is able to:
- Put interest into their voices to make storytelling exciting and come to life
- Add detail or leave information out according to how much is already known by the listener
- Tell stories which have a good structure with distinct plot, an exciting event, clear resolution and conclusion e.g. and everyone got home safely which was great
- Tell elaborate entertaining stories which are full of detailed descriptions
- Incorporate a subplot in telling stories and recalling events, before resolving the main storyline