Although storytelling is a fun pastime to teach your little preschooler, it can develop and promote several other qualities. For example, it can teach your child the art of public speaking — a very essential life skill. While some children are innate storytellers, others need a lot of encouragement and training before they can learn how to tell a story. Here are a few tips on how to train your little one to narrate a story and capture the audience’s attention.
1. Tell stories yourself
Children are highly impressionable and learn a lot by watching their parents. Start off by narrating stories yourself. Choose a story that will give you enough opportunity to modulate your voice and use plenty of hand movements. Stories involving toys or animals provide a lot of scope for the same. While narrating a story to your child, encourage him to mirror your movements and voice.
2. Use puppets and other props
Puppets, dolls and other inanimate objects add a lot of character and drama to a story. Select a few that will help you bring your story to life, and arouse both his interest and imagination. While you tell the story, your little one can move the puppets or point and raise the objects whenever they occur in the story. Encourage her to tell the story to other members of the family once you are done!
3. Play story-building games
Together with your child, create your own stories. Choose a character and name it. Weave everyday events, adventures and mischief around the character. Coax your child to come up with creative ideas to add to the same. Take turns to weave stories. You can also build stories by alternating sentences with your child. For example, you can start by saying, “Once upon a time, there was a dog named Holly who was very naughty.” Your child can add to it by saying, “She ate all the cookies mummy had baked for tea.” Continue the story as long as you are able to!
4. Narrate stories around favourite characters
Most preschoolers have a favourite character or two. Weave your stories around these characters. Add drama to the story by pitching in with some dramatic twist from your end. You can encourage your child to enact the story using voice modulations, facial expressions and hand actions, while you narrate.
5. Plan a storytelling day
Plan a storytelling party! Send out a bunch of invites to your preschooler’s friends or children of a similar age group. You can notify in advance to ask other parents to prep their little ones with a story narrative. Buy presents to cheer all the storytellers whether they ace it or not!
6. Encourage narration from story books
Buy age-appropriate story books with short stories and encourage your child to read and tell the story he liked the most.
7. Emphasise on practising narration
Encourage your child to practise storytelling in front of a mirror. Also, help her memorise the story so that she can narrate it with ease.
Storytelling is indeed an excellent way to spend quality time with your child, while having loads of fun as well. While you teach your preschooler this wonderful skill, don’t forget to be generous with a lot of positive words, praise and applause!
Anitha Bennett is a freelance author who has written books for children from preschool to preteen levels. She also conducts workshops for parents, teachers and children.