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As part of National Storytelling Week, we spoke to Sarah Terry, the Manager of our YMCA Weston Pre-school about the value and power of storytelling to children. 

Storytelling is something we all do naturally, it is one of our oldest means of communication – for entertainment, education, cultural preservation or instilling moral values. Wherever you go and whatever you do, you will find yourself and people around you telling their story. Storytelling is also the foundation upon which writing is built upon. As children’s language develops, they use storytelling in their play to imagine events and create worlds. They describe what has happened to them and they plan their adventures, often trying to make sense of the world around them. This is a key stage in their language development.

In Early Years, we recognise that storytelling has many benefits for young children and understand that storytelling can be an experience rich in learning for children. This learning sometimes happens before children understand text in writing has meaning and sometimes when they’re telling stories for themselves. Storytelling can be books read aloud. made-up stories or interpretations of tales from familiar stories. By telling and re-telling tales about magical worlds, children can begin to understand places outside of their own experiences and try out their ideas in a safe space.

This week at our Weston Pre-school we celebrated National Storytelling Week by holding a Pirate Day, hunting for buried treasure using our own maps that the children created and made. Re-creating the familiar story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears in places such as the messy trays with porridge oats and other resources that support the theme allowed children to experiment with what they remember from the story but also add their own ideas to their play. They had lots of fun dressing up to take on different story roles and we observed that this activity supported the children to expand on these ideas and add different storylines to their play.

More benefits of storytelling:

Improves language and listening skills

Young children listen to stories, they have the chance to hear words presented in a unique way while also hearing different tones and rhythms. They can hear and learn the meanings to unfamiliar words, which can in turn help them to expand their vocabulary. Listening to different characters, plots, conflicts and climaxes can encourage purposeful talking and discussion around the story and plot in many cases.

Enhances Cultural Understanding

Storytelling can help to support cultural understanding. Stories give children the chance to explore their own and other people’s cultures. When hearing stories, children learn to empathize with unfamiliar situations, places, and peoples. Stories help children learn more about different values, traditions, and life experiences through stories.

Develops Creative Thinking and Imagination

Telling stories without visual aids helps to develop creative thinking and imagination. Children must use their imagination, providing their own images to the story. Storytelling often increases enthusiasm in children to start reading. If they enjoy hearing stories, the next step is reading and writing for themselves. It is also fantastic for boosting memory as when you tell a story there often isn’t added illustrations or books, children need to remember character names and key plot points.

If you are looking for new stories to read, why not visit our Library in Woolston to look at our vast range of children’s books and get inspired!

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