Watching children practice their narrative skills — the ability to craft a story and share information — is a truly delightful part of working with early learners.
When children repeat stories, they are showing comprehension skills. This can sometimes look like your child is pretending to read the book to you, even though they can’t identify the words. As children memorize their favorite picture books, they will want to read them to you. This might seem silly but it’s a truly important part of learning.
Once children understand how a book works, some of them like to pick new books and tell whatever story they might find in the pictures. They might even create a story that has nothing to do with what is happening on the page. Letting children craft their own stories and engage with books in a way completely unrelated to the text sets them up for success when they begin reading the book.
You can practice narrative skills every single day. Tell your children stories of what is happening around them. If you are separated for any part of the day, talk about what happened while you were apart. You can even throw in silly experiences that might not have happened. “I went to the grocery store then flew on a rocket ship to the moon to get moon cheese for our dinner!” Encourage them to be silly as well! Did they go to the park? Or did they go on a safari exploring the neighborhood? What animals did they see? Make it fun!
When you are out and about with your children, ask them open-ended questions. If they see a squirrel, you can ask “where do you think that squirrel is going?” or “where did that squirrel come from?” or even “what is that squirrel doing?” This helps children observe actions as part of a sequence and helps them craft those stories in their minds.
Narrative skills are so important to being able to share information and tell stories. This skill really is the backbone of who we are as human beings. Help your little storyteller hone these skills in delightfully creative ways.