As part of early childhood education at home, many parents usually read aloud to their children before the ages of six as a method to cultivate the habit of learning and discovering new words as well as new objects.
In recent years, the method has evolved into storytelling which proves to be more beneficial for the holistic development of young children. While reading aloud focuses on literacy and comprehension, storytelling promotes free expression and instils imagination in children. Imagination opens your child’s mind to creativity and new ideas.
As such, storytelling has become an essential part of early childhood education since the beginning of the 20th century and it is no longer restricted to the classroom environment. Parents are actively using storytelling at home due to its numerous benefits.
Benefits of Storytelling
1. Understanding their roots and culture
The early childhood education curriculum is primarily developed through the use of stories. Interesting stories about past events and occasions can be used to help the children to gain awareness of the many customs around the world. By telling them about historical events, the children understand their roots and culture better as well as learn about various cultural customs.
2. Boosts creativity
Children’s imaginative and creative abilities develop by being exposed to fictional and realistic stories in early childhood education. Hence, a variety of stories can be told to describe different civilizations, events, fantasies, settings, and characters in addition to myths.
Their curiosity will be stimulated intellectually and in turn, it helps to develop their creative abilities and imagination. By using a variety of stories, the child is raised to be an innovative and creative thinker.
3. Improves listening and comprehension skills
Children today prefer to talk more and express themselves freely than to listen. In scenarios when the stories told are either uninteresting or dull, children pay less attention and this affects their thought process.
Storytelling must be engaging and enjoyable so it can help the children to develop better listening and comprehension skills. Additionally, to improve their communication skills, stories with a sense of humour and clear message are the best materials in early childhood education.
4. Improves verbal skills
Stories are a valuable source for an early childhood education programme. When reading aloud to children, all new and significant words must be emphasised which facilitates easier learning.
The child’s pronunciation and social skills will also be enhanced through this approach. Moreover, reading the stories aloud will aid in their comprehension of the material and speed up their learning. Hence, different words and phrases should always be used during storytelling in early childhood education.
5. Enhances memory and concentration
By applying challenging themes strategically in early childhood education, storytelling can be used as a tool to enhance the children’s memory and concentration.
After reading aloud a portion of the narrative, the children could be asked to explain about the lesson. Alternatively, the story can be put on pause and they can be asked to narrate the story until that point, or narrate a summary of the story after 3 to 4 days. These small-scale exercises will aid children in improving their memory and concentration.
Techniques In Storytelling
Pitch is an excellent way to create suspense and climaxes. Imagine this scenario. We have heard about horse racing commentary, and if we set the speed of it aside, the commentator typically begins with a fairly gentle tone and pace.
And as the horses gain momentum and move down the course, the commentary gets louder and louder as the horses’ speeds increase and the suspense builds up until the climatic photo finish.
And now that we can breathe again, we can start to relax. A similar technique can be used in storytelling during early childhood education to heighten the tension and excitement as a crucial moment in the story draws near.
When children hear an increasing pitch, they will either sit up in exciteful glee or start to giggle naturally because they have become mentally and emotionally involved as the expected climax is closing in.
A good story maintains an engaging pace but there are moments when drastically slowing down might improve your story. The children will pay close attention to everything you say if they notice a sudden change in your speech pattern, such as going from your usual tempo to one that is noticeably slower.
A slower voice can paint different scenes such as increased tension, fear, sadness, or advice by an old person. The children will be enthralled and chuckling if you speed up your voice to give a humorous voice to a special character like a mad squirrel.
The children will remain interested if you change the pace of your narrative. We all know children have very short attention spans so changing the story’s speed in early childhood education helps to keep them engaged or to refocus their attention. Thus a mix and match of various speeds, tones and pitches is highly recommended.
When paired with volume, laughter in a story plays a significant role in illuminating the range of emotions of the person laughing. The witch laughs in either a loud and high pitched voice or in a self-assured and haughty tone.
A child’s hushed, high-pitched laugh comes from behind their hand while Father Christmas’ belly laugh is a booming, low-pitched chuckle. As for the Gruffalo, it most likely has a spooky, deep voice.
Play with pitch to spice up your characters and to give them distinct personalities because volume without pitch will only depict half the picture. In general, slightly raising the tone of your voice can also add mystery or indicate a query in dialogue. If the children are familiar with the story, it may also convey to them that you want them to tell you what happens next.
And just when Red Riding Hood was ready to be devoured by the Great Bad Wolf…
Enjoy the moment while the children stare intently into your eyes, waiting for you to say anything else. A well-placed pause is a great tool for creating tension and can heighten the readers’ astonishment and enjoyment of the narrative in early childhood education.
However, if you pause during a story that a young child finds “frightening,” they could respond badly because they are unable to control the growing anxiety in their body. Young children need a happy ending to reaffirm their sense of security and conviction that things will turn out well in the end. They can begin crying even before you’ve finished telling them the story if they don’t know what will happen after the pause.
Older children who have some experience of bad sentiments handle this type of story significantly better and adore the “unknown”. The well placed pause could be your secret weapon in early childhood education to ensure the children’s delight if your story is an adventure, a comedy, or a fanciful tale.
Tots & Teddies
Tots & Teddies is a multi-award winning immersive-bilingual, full-day infant care and preschool centre located in Singapore’s Central Business District (CBD). We cater to discerning parents who want the best quality care for their infants from 2 months through to children under 7 years old.
We believe each child is unique and special, and each child has his or her own individual way of learning. As such, our early childhood education programme caters to each child’s interest and curiosity in learning. For our preschool that caters for children of 18 months to 6 years of age, we provide resources for a small class ratio of one teacher to five children to ensure holistic progress and development.
As a bilingual preschool in Singapore, we believe in providing children with ample opportunities to construct knowledge with active participation, both in the English and Chinese language. The constant exposure to both languages allows children to develop fluency in reading, speaking and writing from a young age.
Within each classroom, age appropriate toys and manipulatives are provided to develop the children’s sensory, fine motor skills and cover major learning areas such as Discovery of The World, Literacy, Numeracy & Logical Thinking, Chinese Language, Motor Skills, Social & Emotional Development as well as Aesthetics and Creative Expression.
We also believe in providing a print-rich environment to enrich the children’s literacy skills through library corners and interactive picture and flash cards. Every classroom is designed to contain different learning spaces, catering teaching materials of all levels to reinforce the children’s concepts in major learning areas. Their work is also displayed beautifully around the classroom to boost their confidence and self esteem.
Additionally, as part of our core programme in Aesthetics and Creative Expression , we provide enhanced English Speech and Drama lessons to hone the children’s imaginative and creative skills. These are done via singing, music and movement lessons.
In summary, when storytelling is incorporated into early childhood education, it becomes highly instrumental in boosting the child’s language skills, memory and concentration, imaginative and creative thinking skills as well as confidence and communication skills. Overall, it aids in the holistic development and growth of the child inside and outside the classroom environment.
Thus it is critical to find an early childhood education provider who is able to cater a well-rounded curriculum for your child so they can develop in all aspects during their formative years as this will have an impact on their later stages of development in life.