National Storytelling Week

Jan 2024

Today is the start of National Storytelling Week, running from 27 January to 4 February. Here at Kumon, we love telling and hearing stories and have gathered some of the ways that storytelling can have a positive impact on a child's learning and development.

Character development
Storytelling is fundamentally about sharing - sharing plots, sharing characters and, most importantly, sharing emotions and experiences. It is a great social activity which strengthens relationships and forges memories.

The role of storyteller will greatly improve a child's oral communication skills, as they become accustomed to speaking for an extended time and communicating with adults.

Encourage your child to share their own stories; this may be about an event which took place in school, or a conversation they shared with a friend. In relaying this information, they will develop confidence and improve their conversational skills.

Telling stories to children enables them to learn the art of listening. Children prefer to talk rather than to listen, so to hone this skill from a young age will go on to serve them well in a classroom environment.

Mental stimulation
Children are naturally curious and storytelling is a great medium to encourage and channel this curiosity into a learning opportunity. As a story progresses, it begins to invite questions from the listener: "What's going to happen next?", "Will there be a happy ending?" A child will begin to form these sorts of questions in their minds, so encourage them to ask and then discuss together. This will encourage them to think things through, while keeping them focussed and engaged.

A common question a child will have is: "What does that word mean?" This is an excellent question which demonstrates the importance of storytelling as a way to introduce new vocabulary to a child and increase their literacy. New vocabulary given through the context of a story will additionally be much easier for them to understand and successfully use themselves as they can infer the meanings of words through context.

Good storytelling surreptitiously teaches children the structure of a story - the beginning, the middle, and the end. As well as familiarisation with the structure, they learn about popular characterisations, for example, the presence of 'goodies' and 'baddies'.

Creative growth
Listening to stories will enrich their imagination. Unlike a picture book where images are shown, each listener has their own unique mental image of what is occurring in a story. Storytelling offers this imaginative freedom like no other medium. This enhanced creativity will filter through into role-plays children perform, games they play, pictures they draw, etc. making them all more thoughtful and intricate.

Whether a child is giving their own narrative or is listening to a story, through storytelling they are speaking, listening, and thinking, all wrapped up in a fun family activity. Make sure you tell and listen to some stories this National Storytelling Week!