‘The best way to teach is by telling a story’. However, all the benefits of storytelling are laid on the foundation that it must be engaging. Only if children truly enjoy the experience, can stories become the tools for learning and connecting. There are different ways to be a good storyteller and make storytelling delightful and fun.
Read With Interest
Through words and body language, enjoy the process of reading out the story to your child. Use voice modulations, facial expressions, enunciations and become the different characters of the book. Dramatize a bit, take pauses, laugh out loud or whisper in hush tones. Let the child see how much fun you are having, and only then will the child reciprocate with the same enthusiasm.
It’s a good idea to use props, while storytelling. These could be in the form of puppets, drawings, flannel boards etc. to help the child visualize the story. Besides, they ensure that the kid is not distracted and remains focused on the characters and plot.
Answer The Questions
Almost any child is guaranteed to stop you mid-sentence to ask a question or comment on a situation in the story. Allow for these interruptions, answer their doubts and acknowledge their comments. This makes the storytelling experience interactive and engaging
Experiment & Improvise
You can also make up your own stories and try other ways of going beyond regular storytelling. For instance, if your child is in a phase where he/she is not sharing things with others, then mould the story a bit to explain the importance of sharing. Similarly, you can also try telling a true story based on your own experience. Children enjoy knowing things you did as a kid or how you reacted to a particular situation.
Create The Appropriate Ambience
It is important to create an atmosphere of comfort and quiet for the child to absorb and enjoy the story. It could be letting them sit on a study chair, incline on bed or creating a reading corner in the room. Setting the right ambience and surroundings help children to remain alert and concentrate on the story. At the same time, they are more willing to listen and are looking forward to the experience since they are happy to be in their comfort zone.
What Not To Do
Though there are several ways to make storytelling fun and interesting, there are also a few things that you must absolutely avoid.
A story is a great way to teach your kid about values, concepts and facts. But to use a story for strictly only educative purposes can have adverse effects. If your intention is to always correct and teach them through a story, they may start relating stories with schooling. They might start thinking of what they did wrong instead of enjoying the story.
Also, one must avoid paying too much importance on trying to teach them new words or treating the completion of the story as a deadline task, in spite of them wanting to take a break. The main focus must be on the comfort and enjoyment of the child. Storytelling must not be forced, or a regimented routine that cannot be broken.
How To Choose The Right Books For Your Child?
Choosing the right story to tell your kid is of utmost importance. Here are a few pointers to help you decide on which story to pick.
Age-appropriate – Both the books and the story have to be appropriate for the age of the child. For babies and toddlers use bright pictorial books. Touch and feel books covered in boards or cloth are ideal at this stage. For preschoolers, pop-up books with minimal scripts are advisable.
Subject matter – Stories centred around teaching daily life skills and lessons are recommended for young children. They can learn simple concepts of hygiene, like brushing, bathing, eating healthy etc. Or about basic behaviours, such as helping or being polite. Also, it is always a good idea to Google or ask around for the newest editions of children books that are trending and popular. Such books help to stay in touch with the current time.
Child’s Choice –Allow the child to pick a book of his/her choice from the library or from their collection of books. Also, make sure that the books are placed to the eye-level of the child, so that they can easily see or read the cover.
How To Be A Good Storyteller?
The fundamental rule on how to become a good storyteller, is to tell the story for the joy and happiness that it brings to the child. If the child is having fun listening to the story, then it almost undoubtedly accomplishes all the other advantages of storytelling, including improving language, cognitive skills and more. However, if the fun element is taken away, then they become a burden to bear. A burden that the child will find hard to cast away in older years, and may eventually lead to them not taking up to reading as well. So, for all storytellers out there – choose a story that touches the soul of the child, captivates the imagination and brings loads of laughter and fun along the way.
At ZM: The Speech Care Clinic, we conduct and lay paramount importance on storytelling sessions. As a certified storyteller, I would be also happy to help and clear any further doubts that you might have on how to become a good storyteller for your child.