Can I tell you a story?
Author: Manasa Mohan
As much as story narration to children caters to child development, listening to their stories caters to more. I want to create a space in my classroom where children feel heard, children feel unjudged and empowered.
“Miss, can I tell you a story about my grandfather?” one of the children asks excitedly.
“Miss, there was a ghost near my house and….” continues a child and keeps repeating the story many times.
Every day there is a child that comes up to me exhilarated about a random story. This got me thinking about how important it is to narrate stories to children but more importantly give them the space to express themselves through stories. I understand so much about my children and their lives through the stories they tell.
Diversity in the way children tell stories
Each child has their way of telling stories.
One child gets too engrossed in the story she says, there is so much focus and attention to detail in her stories.
One of my other children is too casual when he narrates stories. The stories are vague, don’t have a structure but I notice he always talks about his family especially his brother.
One child narrates the same story every day.
One child changes the conclusion of the story every time.
One’s voice goes down, one’s voice goes up.
One gets excited about the claps, one shies away from it.
A common theme to be noticed is that children want to be heard. They have a million things to say. They naturally love talking and sharing about their everyday lives. And as an educator, I wish to enable more listeners. I wish to learn more from my children every passing day. Louise Rosenblatt, a widely known scholar of literature, articulated that:
Similarly, the stories my children tell help me understand their lives and their perspective.
What do I learn?
I have come to realize that it is important to listen to their little stories. Their little stories tell me more about them every day. It helps me connect and bond with them better. I learn about their perspectives, the words they use help me in creating lesson plans they can relate to. Stories they tell help me connect with their communities, strike a conversation with their parents, understand if there is something pressing happening that should be attended to.
What is in it for them?
Children, through their stories, have an outlet to express their thoughts, it encourages them to be more curious, it helps them focus and pay more attention to details. They develop critical thinking skills. When children tell stories to each other, it builds confidence, they see different perspectives – perspectives about their views on people in different parts of the world. And not just that; their stories can also influence how they choose to act in the world. Stories help them build articulation skills in their mother tongue which in turn helps them build English skills. It encourages them to develop empathy and cultivate imaginative and divergent thinking – that is, thinking that generates a range of possible ideas or solutions around a story.
I believe, as time progresses, I consciously use stories to empower young little leaders in my class. I wish to build values and build the culture of my class through mediums that come naturally to my children.
For children coming from underprivileged backgrounds, education is the only way to secure their futures. It helps them identify their voice and create the future of their dreams. If you’re passionate about driving change through education, register on the Bhumi website.
About the Author
Manasa is passionate about making Social Emotional Learning an integral part of education. Apart from her interest in art, you will find her humming to songs of different languages because of her love for music.