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How stories and storytelling can help children overcome fears and worries.

Hello everybody, I’m Donna an Early Years Practitioner and trained Henry Facilitator.

Coronavirus has changed our daily lives in many ways. The last few months have been challenging for us all. Children have seen their routines changed and have had to adapt to these changes. A positive way to help children speak about how the current situation has impacted on them is to encourage them to write a story about their experiences during COVID-19. They can draw inspiration from real life events that have happened to them over the past few months.

How stories and storytelling can help children overcome fears and worries.

Some children may be worried or afraid of the Coronavirus.  You could help them talk about and overcome their fears by encouraging and supporting them to write a story about a superhero who conquers the virus and helps keep everyone safe. Remind them that they are being a superhero by staying at home and helping to stop the virus spreading. This can give them an enormous confidence boost, as well as helping them consolidate their literacy learning by putting their phonics, grammar and reading skills into practice helping them develop their communication, language and early writing development. Young children can tell their story with pictures they have drawn and with spoken words, which you can then write into their book for them, if of course they want you to!

Children love to hear stories, they help to develop a child’s imagination by introducing new ideas into their world. Ideas about fantastical worlds, other planets, mythical creatures, different points in time, things that have happened to them and invented characters or superheroes. Stories can open a child’s mind and encourage them to realise that they can, and should, imagine anything they want. It’s not just girls who love to write or make up stories. Some of our most famous and successful authors are male. We should encourage, support and praise boys for their writing skills and attempts.  Boys can create some fantastic stories, poems and plays if they have the right tools and encouragement.  If we find what sparks boys interest and what they are passionate about they are much more likely to want to create and write their own stories about those interests and passions.

Stories help children make memories

Talking with your child about what happened during their day or retelling stories about things you have done together in the past, can be lots of fun and develops children’s memories and sequencing skills.  One of my most treasured memories was cuddling up with my daughter when she was a child to share a story together. She would tell a simple story in her own words about something that had happened to her at school, during her day or take events and characters from one of her favourite stories and retell it in her own words. I would asking her questions such as “How did that make you feel? What did you do next? How did you get away?” Encouraging her to continue to create and elaborate on her story and to be a creative thinker by showing my interest and enjoyment.

By encouraging children to write and create their own stories, not only are you making writing more fun for them and expanding their creativity and imagination but you might even encourage them to become the next J.K Rowling, Roald Dahl, Beatrix Potter or David Walliams.

In a world where technology have influenced every aspect of our lives, as parents and our child’s first educators we should encourage our children to embrace that special time for them to sit at a desk, in the garden or any other special place where they can embrace their inner author and write their own stories. No amount of videos or apps can hone the creativity and imagination of your child more than a good storybook.  Nothing serves a child better than a love of words, language and reading. For the rest of their lives they will be rewarded and enriched.

So how do you get your child to start telling his or her own stories?

Here are a few tips:

  • Incorporate story-time into your daily routine. Start by telling your child a story and then ask them to tell you one.
  • Give prompts. If your child is struggling to come up with an idea, don’t be afraid to give prompts, ideas or suggestions. Every story starts with an idea.
  • Family photos are a wonderful starting point for a story, family holidays, trips out, parties can all spark a child’s imagination, recall and storytelling skills.
  • Pictures that they find interesting in magazines or talking about their favourite superheroes, on TV or in a book, things they have done at school or nursery, will all help spark their imagination and recall memories. You can also ask them to talk about the things that make you happy, scared, or sad.
  • Ask them to elaborate, be enthusiastic about your child’s story. Ask your child where the story is going to take place, will the story be-now? In the future? In the past? Ask about the characters, their feelings, their motivations, their actions, what super powers they have, what will happen next.
  • Make it fun! Creating stories shouldn’t be a chore; it should be something your child looks forward to doing.

Children are visual learners and process things best through images it is always nice to encourage them to draw out the things they see in their imagination or story, especially if they can’t find the words to describe them.  Drawing can be just as important as writing when it comes to developing your child’s creativity and storytelling.

So, let’s encourage a new generation of authors who inspire and encourage a love of reading!

Enjoy your week.

See you next week, Donna



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