One More Point of View on the Importance of Stories for English Learning in Early Childhood
Early childhood is the period from 0-8 years old, it is a time of remarkable growth with brain development at its peak. During this stage, children are highly influenced by the environment and the people that surround them. We can say further that Early childhood education is a branch of education that relates to the teaching of children from birth to the age of eight, therefore covering infancy, kindergarten and the early school years up to grades 3. So how does storytelling come in? Well, storytelling does a lot here because this stage is very crucial to a child’s early physical, socio-emotional, cognitive and linguistic development.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Chinenye M. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
Benefits of Stories for Children
The importance of reading cannot be emphasized enough in young children, teachers, and parents inclusive needs to make every day reading a high priority in the child’s upbringing. Children have an innate love of stories. Stories create magic and a sense of wonder at the world, stories teach us about life, about ourselves and others. Storytelling is a unique way for students to develop an understanding, respect, and appreciation for other cultures, and can promote a positive attitude to people from different lands, races, and religions.
Telling stories is an opportunity for children and educators to learn about culture, community, and language. We support children to learn about the stories and history of their own cultures, as well as the broader community. Stories are a medium with which all children become familiar and enjoy. Whether through books, pictures, dance, music, rhymes, multimedia, or the spoken word - storytelling is a crucial part of early childhood education and beyond. Many studies show that toddlers who listen to stories in English classes from either we the ESL teachers or at home from their parents every day have a larger vocabulary than those who do not engage in storytelling at all. Not only does reading enhance a child’s vocabulary, and to help them understand how to read and write, but reading aloud to children also helps them to understand different topics about the world and everyday life.
Role in Children’s’ Development
Stories play a vital role in the growth and development of children. The books they read and the characters they get to know can become like friends. It is also good for children to understand that books are a useful source of information and that good reading skills are important for success in their future lives. Reading to them also helps children with their confidence levels, coping with feelings and language and learning.
Stories are a great way to introduce new words and ideas into a child’s language, starting with picture books, flashcards that contain popular heroes, cartoon stories, etc. Stories can help children learn about concepts such as shape, size, space, and color, up and down, inside and outside, numbers and the names of objects. They can also teach children about everyday tasks, such as how to brush their teeth, taking care of animals, cleaning, it can also teach basic ethics, etiquette, and morals in society. However, ESL teachers must not introduce advanced or complicated stories to toddlers, and the manner at which the stories are also very important; gestures and funny face, mimicking and caricature, the high and low pitch sounds to depict the reality of the stories must be used to gain the attention and interest of the children.
Stories are also useful for teaching more ideas, such as the importance of sharing, the passage of time, compassion for others. They can be useful when trying to explain traumatic events, such as family break-ups and bereavement. Fiction based on real-life can also help children with their own life experience – it shows them how diverse the world is and that some people’s lives are vastly different from theirs. The good thing about learning through stories is that the process is done naturally. There’s no actual teaching involved at all, they learn from simply reading the story. Reading stories can be helpful for relaxation, especially before bedtime; this may occur at home or during the siesta period in the kindergarten. They allow children to forget the stresses and strains of the day and indulge in fantasy for a while. The soothing familiarity of a much-loved story, the rhyming, and repetition in a picture book, plus the sense of security that time spent reading together can foster, all help the child to relax and perhaps sleep off. When children read stories that contain feelings it can help them understand and accept their feelings. It helps them understand that other children feel the same way and they are not alone. This helps the child understand that feelings are normal and should be expressed. Watching their responses to the feelings of the characters in the stories will give you some idea of how a child feels about certain situations and emotions.
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Finally, telling stories to children helps to create a bond between the reader (be it the ESL teacher or the parent), there is nothing better than cuddling up to your students and reading a story during nap time, this can also create rapport between teacher and students as discussed in unit 19 of this course.
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