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Want to become an expert in storytelling to keep your child engaged and entertained? Here are some valuable tips to help you out.
Which kid doesn't love to listen to stories? And, which parent bids goodnight to their tiny tot without a storytelling session? Kids' storytelling weaves a magical spell on both the storyteller as well as the young listener. So, if you want to sharpen your skills in storytelling for children, and keep your child hooked on your stories, here are some storytelling tips.
The National Storytelling Network (NSN), US, defines the process as, 'an ancient art form and a valuable form of human expression.' It also goes on to explain that to most of us, 'Storytelling is the interactive art of using words and actions to reveal the elements and images of a story while encouraging the listener's imagination.' And, we should also remember that storytelling for children can be a great tool for parents to connect with their little ones.
Popular Hollywood director Robert Redford once said, "Storytellers broaden our minds, engage, provoke, inspire, and ultimately, connect us." It is quite true. Storytelling is an art that can be entertaining as well as educative.
Storytelling for children is not only a great way to keep them engaged but also one which benefits them in many ways, such as promoting their cognitive development and improving their language skills. In an article published in the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), in 2016, Prof Denise E Agosto outlines the literacy benefits of storytelling. So, bear in mind that kids' storytelling not only provides pleasure to children but also helps develop skills.
Your child's age is one major factor that decides the type of stories you can tell him. For, kids' storytelling can be effective only if the choice of story appeals to the little ones. If your child is a toddler or preschooler, he will love stories that involve animals, birds or insects. Folk tales and fairy tales will also fascinate him a lot. If your child is in primary school, you can tell him stories that teach morals and values, preferably from the Panchatantra Tales or Aesop's Fables. For preteens and teens, the stories should be filled with adventure, romance or drama. So, whether it is short storytelling for kids or long narrative tales for older children, you can pick and choose from various genres.
Stories not only keep your child engaged and entertained but also offer innumerable benefits which play a great role in her learning and overall development. They include:
If you want to make the storytelling session with your child more interesting, here are a few things you need to focus on:
1. Narration: Proper presentation of a story is important to capture your child's interest. A simple story with familiar elements is good for narration. Read through the story several times to familiarise yourself so that you can comfortably make eye contact with your child while narrating or reading the story. As you narrate the story, learn to modulate your voice, depending on the character. If a story is complex, having many important personalities, you can even dramatize it to the best of your ability.
2. Allow interruptions: Allow your child the freedom to interrupt and share her thoughts, queries and excitement after each important sequence in the story. This will encourage creativity. Sometimes, your child will even draw parallels between your story and something she had listened to earlier. It shows that she is paying attention to what you are saying.
3. Visualise the stories: Pictures speak a thousand words. Even unfamiliar elements and complex stories can be tackled through visual aids. They avoid distraction among children during narration. Puppets, comic strips and flannel boards are helpful when story sequence, movement and relationships are important.
4. Digitised storytelling: This works if you are a comfortable techie and have the patience to weave various elements of the virtual and the real world with the help of your digital gadgets into your presentation. Digitized storytelling involves static and moving images and sound. Non-linear and interactive narratives are the new faces of story-telling. Avoid too many videos in a tale as they hamper imagination in a child. This form of storytelling will be appreciated by children who are at least 11 years old, and who will find it 'cool'.
5. Participation: The following formats work best with short simple tales and simple plots:
Here are some useful tips that will help you make the storytelling session interesting:
Storytelling need not be always one-dimensional. With advanced technology at your disposal, you can bring in a lot of innovation by trying alternative storytelling methods using the following:
Although most of us think that only adults can tell stories, nothing can be further from the truth. Even children can become accomplished storytellers. To help your child sharpen her storytelling skills, you can encourage her to participate in storytelling competitions.
Preparation matters a lot when your child wants to participate in storytelling competitions. Here's how you can help him equip himself:
If your preschooler is participating in a storytelling competition, choose a story that she is comfortable with. The story should be simple, interesting, easy to narrate, and filled with values and morals. Most importantly, teach your little one how to narrate the story beautifully in her own charming style.
To sum up, a good storyteller is one who gives life to the stories he narrates. The way he emotes should draw the listeners into the story and keep them spellbound. Being a parent, your expertise in storytelling will make your child have a wonderful experience. And who knows, she might also learn the art from you and become a great storyteller herself!