We have all heard the “back in my day” stories told to us by our parents and grandparents and most of us almost instinctively started to roll our eyes because they were often used to show us how easy we have it compared to them. But these stories and others like them have played a powerful part in our development.
Storytelling is the oldest form of education. People around the world have always told tales as a way of passing down their cultural beliefs, traditions, and history to future generations. Why? Stories are at the core of all that makes us human. (Hamilton & Weiss, 2005)
Storytelling helps improve children’s listening and attention skills. Along with language skills, which are strengthened by exposing children to new vocabulary. It also models how speech inflections can alter meanings to words and sentences. During storytelling, children have to use their imagination to picture in their mind characters and plots. This then strengthens memories as they have to remember details from one time to the next. It enhances cultural understanding by exposing them to their own culture and others. It helps children become aware of changes through time and gives them a chance to imagine what life was like for people in those times.
So be brave and tell a story. Use different voices, get silly, and animate your face and body and watch as your child’s eyes light up.
Share your favorite story with us.
TASHA WULF, EXTENSION EDUCATOR | THE LEARNING CHILD
Peer Reviewed by Lynn DeVries, Extension Educator, The Learning Child and Leslie Crandall, Extension Educator, The Learning Child
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