Stories touch everyone’s imagination, but none more so than children. That is why storytelling and that arts play such an important part in a child’s life. As budgets get cut, there is already evidence of a decline in bookings for such activities as sending storytellers into schools, which we here at Settle Stories are huge advocates of.
But why are these opportunities so important?
When it comes to teaching in a classroom, research shows that children tend to retain more knowledge when they can connect it with a classroom activity. One of the most common is storytelling.
Storytelling is a great tool to use when trying to teach children a difficult concept, scientific ideas such as gravity can be made easier to understand with a story – such as Sir Isaac Newton and the apple. It can create many more meaningful learning opportunities than just being presented with facts and information.
Settle Stories very own ‘resident storyteller’ Sita uses just such tools in one of her sets in schools – The Dragon's Pearl, an old Chinese folktale which teaches young people about generosity and character building.
When children become engaged in a story it sparks an interest in the ideas and motives of the characters and any conflicts that they may face. Storytelling promotes the expression of using our imagination and opens up areas where discussion of such can be nurtured. As children become invested in a story opportunities for further learning or wider involvement in ideas of the story open up.
How does experiencing a storyteller in school engage children?
Stories promote listening and create many opportunities for a two way interaction. The stories themselves often contain people or characters in which children in particular can connect with, often encouraging children to think about their own feelings, memories and experiences. Children often sit enthralled, mouths open and eyes wide. Storytellers don’t only rely on speaking the story, they use their craft and experience to engage the children. Talking slowly and with alternating rhythm, walking around and acting out the characters. Children become a part of the story too, with some storytellers inviting children to act out the story as it is told, or dress up in costumes or props. They are often asked to contribute sound effects, to answer questions or make suggestions.
Storytelling is an authentic activity, a way to capture a child’s imagination. Albert Einstein himself said that “imagination is more important than knowledge” and yet often it is overlooked at school and at home.
Children need the chance to see that storytelling is often a key to unlocking their imaginations, a way for them to see that pictures created in their own minds are just as, if not more important than those that they get from the vast array of visual media. Storytelling is still unmatched as a tool for stimulating their imaginations, one which must surely continue for a rich and varied curriculum.
Do you know a school that would be interested in having a storyteller in for the day? Check out our upcoming school workshops here.
Written by volunteer writer Elizabeth Snell