Storytelling with Young Children

When you think about it, humans have been telling stories ever since there were humans. From cave paintings to Picasso, from Mother Goose to War and Peace, the urge to communicate with those around us and those yet to come has been an integral part of our make up.

Cave art_lThe same is true of young children. From the very first drawings they make–the ones that have us a bit puzzled yet are perfectly clear to them–to the essays they write in high school, the intent is the same. They are telling us a story.

It may be the story of what happened that day. It may be the story of “them.” It may be a story about someone who only exists in the imagination of one human being. It really doesn’t matter. The urge to tell, to share, to communicate is the same as that very first urge for that very first human who drew that very first cave painting about his hunt.

When your young child stands before you, eager to share his/her story, be gentle. Consider it the very first invitation into his/her world. Be patient. Those first stories areChild Art_l hard to tell. There are so many diversions, so many ideas to get into one story. As your child grows older, the stories will be more organized. They will have a clearer point from the start because your child will have more experience with organizing thoughts and spinning a tale.

Don’t look at these early storytelling experiences as a teachable moment. Look at them as a sharable event. You can tell part, your child can tell part. You can make a story where everyone contributes. You can make a story with only pictures. There are no rules. Just aim for a beginning, a middle, and an end. And have a good time.

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