It is exactly 2 years since I completed my Storytelling for Children training at the fabulous International School of Storytelling with the talented Danyah Miller. 3 weeks that changed my life.
Over the past few years I have taken the opportunities to tell stories in woods and in schools whenever possible. Highlights have included at Belper Art Festival, and at Belper Woollen Woods and through my work supporting the Woodland Trust's Charter for Trees.
I especially wanted to write about Storytelling in Early Years as I am discovering that I especially enjoy this age group. Central to the Early Years Foundation stage is supporting children with the development of their communication and language, and the rich vocabulary of folk and fairy tales naturally support children with this.
Storytelling also supports children to develop their listening skills, and there are formulas you can use in your telling to support children. The use of rhythm and repetition is central to this, with phrases repeating at least 3 times so the children can learn and join in the words. The use of actions which the children join in with is also helpful, and I have found it to be a great way to introduce vocabulary to those pupils who may have English as a second language.
The use of props in storytelling with early years is also very helpful at engaging attention, and there is nothing more effective as puppets. During my training I was greatly inspired by Bronia Evers of One Moment in Time Theatre - who uses puppets extensively in her storytelling. She inspired me to begin making my own felted puppets, which has truly opened up a world or creativity for me that I can bring to the children.
Very young children are very capable of listening to stories for up to 40 minutes. To help achieve this I intersperse the stories with songs, and action activities. I always end my set with a Wondertale or Fairytale where the child can simply listen and lose themselves in their imagination and the imagery of the story.
Amongst the other myriad benefits of storytelling include inspiring children's imaginations, and imagination is known to be central to children developing creative responses to challenges; creating a nurturing sense of community especially helpful to more vulnerable children and helping children to explore the world and relationships, as many stories are underpinned by messages around the importance of developing respect for each other and the world and modelling positive relationships.
Most importantly storytelling is a very joyful and fun experience for both the children and the storyteller!
Recommended reading "The right story at the right time - Changing the lives of Children and Adolescents one story at a time" by Marianna deCroes