Selasa, 13 November 2012

The Art of Story Telling: How to Tell Stories to Children

 Storytelling is a universal, traditional art form, that has featured strongly in all cultures as an effective communication tool.
Important messages can be so skilfully conveyed through storytelling, as the listener is so entranced by the magic images the storyteller paints before your eyes.
And it is in this way that we as educators of young children can promote their learning.

 They can develop:
-  An understanding of human nature
- An understanding of feelings
- An awareness of the role characteristics people assume
- An understanding of sequence
- Language skills (vocabulary, grammar, syntax and pronunciation)
- Their attention span and their ability to listen
- Their ability to follow instructions
- Their ability to co-operate with others; and
- An understanding of concepts

Things to remember while telling stories to children:
Here are some guidelines that should be remembered while telling stories to children.
Instill the right set of learnings: A child's mind is very absorbent. It will start believing in whatever is being fed to it, without the filter of fact or fiction. Because of this kind of indiscriminate absorbing, stories should be based on facts and truths so that the child does not imbibe the wrong set of learnings. Otherwise such learnings become difficult to undo later on.
Prevent settling for fantasy than truth: Fantasies and fictions are full of powerful visual and mental imageries. A very young impressionable mind is likely to find these imageries so fascinating that they might get hijacked by these rather than by the truth. They might settle for the fantasy because the fantasy is so captivating. The search for the truth could get short-circuited. Therefore while telling stories to children, fantasy must be avoided.
Avoid encouraging wrong pretend-play: All children reinforce their learnings by pretend-play. This is natural and cannot be controlled. When they start living out false stories, there is likely to be a reinforcement of the wrong set of values and principles, some of which can be detrimental to later development. Therefore, always tell stories to children that are based on real life heroes and incidents so they have the right role models. 

Remember, the effect of false stories cannot be measured: Stories that are based on fantasies and fiction are in the realm of the immeasurable. So there will be several ways of interpreting it. It will be difficult to pinpoint the exact nature of what children have learnt because of exposure to certain kinds of stories. This is likely to render further building of knowledge tentative. Therefore, while telling stories to children, avoid horror stories and stories with themes that are in the realm of "grey". 

Ensure that learning opportunities are not compromised: Ensure that stories will facilitate the following learning opportunities for children. 
a. Children learn better by relating to real life experience. Ensure that stories provide opportunities for children to benefit from experiential learning. 
b. Ensure that the stories help build children's vocabulary. Stories have the power to instill the right usage of words, in the right context. Besides, these contexts will be repeated in real life, which will help reinforce the learnings from the stories. 
c. Ensure that the stories help build the children's repertoire of knowledge, the kind of knowledge that will help them build a better model of reality. Falsehoods and fictional intelligence will not constitute intelligence.

Encourage questioning: A child's mind is a questioning mind. This curiosity will be sufficiently satiated through the art of story telling if it is based on reality. So ensure that the stories open up the gateways for healthy topics to continue the process of learning for children.
Don't upset the child's world: Children have an inner sense of order and consistency. When this contradicts with what they see happening in the real world, their sense of confidence in what they have learnt will be rendered tentative. This is what will happen when children hears stories that are never played out in real life. Therefore always tell stories that will reinforce the child's image of reality.
Build strong mental models: Children are always building models of the real world and live out their lives and interactions based on these mental models. When a child bases his mental model on false stories, his mental model of the world will be wrong and so will the child's interactions with the world. Therefore ensure that the stories help children cast scenarios where they can figure out the dos and don'ts in a situation.
Story telling should have a positive effect on the development process for a child. It should not have mere entertainment value. It should also have information and reality values.
English Story Telling "Umar bin Khattab The Second Caliph of Islam 
 Umar's Care For The Poor " by Lulu Susanti @SMP Negeri 4, Depok, Indonesia on May 23, 2009.


Umar's Care For The Poor

It was the year of the famine. Umar took pains to ensure that adequate relief reached all people, and that there were no persons in the city who went to sleep hungry.
One night as usual Umar went on his round. He was accompanied by his slave Aslam. As he strolled from street to street all was quiet and the people seemed to be asleep. Umar thought to himself, "Thank God, there is no one in this city whom the famine has afflicted."
Then as he turned a corner he saw a cottage where light was burning, and from where the sound of the weeping of the children was heard. Umar went to the cottage. He saw that the lady of the house was cooking something on the hearth, and the children were crying.
Umar knocked at the gate, and addressing the lady of the house Umar enquired why were the children crying. She said that they were crying because they were hungry. "And what are you cooking", asked Umar. The lady said that in the kettle there was only water and stones. That was to while away the children that food was being cooked for them. She hoped that exhausted the children would go to sleep.
Hearing this tale of woe, Umar felt guilty. He had thought that because of the arrangements made by him, no one was afflicted in the city and here was a family which was starving. Umar said to the lady that he would arrange relief for her family immediately.
Umar went to the Baitul Mal. There he put the necessary provisions in a bag and carried the bag to the cottage. His slave insisted that he would carry the bag, but Umar said that he would carry his burden himself. Umar handed over the bag of provisions to the lady. Umar sat by the hearth and helped the lady cook the meals. When the meals were ready the children were awakened and served with the delicious meals. As the children ate to their fill and were satisfied they smiled the smile of happiness. Seeing the destitute children smile Umar also felt happy.
Umar enquired of the lady whether there was none to support. She said that the father of the children had died, and there was no body to support. Whatever little was in the house had been gradually used up and they were starving since the last three days.
Umar asked the lady why she had not brought her distress to the notice of the Caliph. The lady said that in spite of her poverty she had some sence of self-respect and she could not go and beg the Caliph for any favour. She added that it was incumbent on the Caliph to ascertain that there was no one in his charge who was starving.
Umar said, "You are right. Please excuse me for the remissness in the past. For the future it will be my responsibility to see that your wants are satisfied."
And when the lady realised that the man who had come to her relief was the Caliph himself, she felt satisfied that the Caliph had discharged his onerous responsibilities creditably.

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