Telling Stories has got to be one of the most important skills that we need to cultivate. To most people that may sound like a sweeping statement, but to parents and educationalists it is part of what makes us good at communication skills.
If you consider that when someone gives a presentation, they need more than a good background in the subject or topic. So what is more? They need the skill to know or sense their audiences’ reaction; they need to get their timing and context right for any given audience.
Long ago the art of storytelling was the way that information and history was passed down from generation to generation. We no longer sit around the camp fire and learn history from our elders, we can get it from books or the internet.
The stage actor or comedian has worked hard to understand their audiences. They have also put a lot of effort into getting their timings right for the delivery of punch lines or to get audience response.
The content of the story is always vital but it is the way that you say it that will make all of the difference. As social animals we tune into each other. That is why children really enjoy stories that are told to them whether as a class or an individual at home.
The more we are able think beyond the content of the story,the more likely our audience will respond. The human brain is always seeking out the structure and meaning beyond the words that are spoken or read.
One of the best ways to entertain a child is by telling a favourite story without the aid of a book. You will get their undivided attention and you can individualise the story to include the child’s favourite foods, friends, toys or places.
This means that The Three Bears story may have coco pops instead of porridge and the Puss In Boots may take the family dog to London, but the art of storytelling is all about catering for your audience.
Just a note of caution – if you try to tell your own version of a much loved book by using the book as a prop, you will find that the child already knows what the script is for each page verbatim so you change the wording at your peril!
The audience will soon get the hang of the structure of a story. It will need a beginning, a middle and an end. There is usually at least one main character, there is an activity or a problem to solve. There is usually some resolution to the difficulty.
You will know when you have got really good at this, as the art of storytelling will have been passed onto the child. They will tell stories to you, to their siblings or their cuddly toys. Their confidence in communicating to others will grow.
Even if you or your child never have to give a presentation in front of a large audience, you may have to share the information you have read from a fiction or factual publication so the ability to share the story will never go out of fashion