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You’d think by the time the kids reach their preteen and teenage years, they’d be too old for storytelling, but you’d be wrong. This is the perfect time for them to hone their storytelling skills, and it has a number of spin-off benefits too. The skills involved in creating, editing and telling a great story are useful in many areas of teenage life.
The first vital skill to develop for storytelling is an agile memory, to get the story back on track when it wanders, or adapt it to suit listeners. This skill is also useful when it comes to exams, as it enables effective information retrieval. For millenia before writing was developed, human societies used stories and songs to remember their histories. The brain is hard-wired for stories.
Next comes an understanding of characters in the story. This comes in especially useful for teens, whose developing brains have a tendency towards self-centeredness, and who are ruled by their emotions and hormones. A teen with an understanding of other people’s motives has quite an advantage over their peers when it comes to social interaction.
Setting a narrative out in a logical order, introducing plot points leading towards a planned conclusion, is a very useful skill when it comes to essay writing, a mainstay of many exams. Storytellers can see the “bigger picture” and hold it in their mind as they write, even under pressure. The skill of weaving togethoer a narrative transfers nicely to building an argument for debate (though this skill is often used against parents when it comes to negotiating freedoms!).
Children who are regularly exposed to and involved in storytelling, develop the ability to notice the extraordinary within everyday situations. They can pick out the birdsong over the roar of traffic, or notice the beauty of a plant growing in a crack in a crumbling wall. This ability brings them out of themselves, and helps them focus on positive aspects of situations that others find disheartening. Optimism is a great trait to have!
An imaginative child is never short of entertainment, even when the wifi is down and they don’t have a book to read. They have an endless source of interest in the world around, and in their own heads.
When it comes to interviews, whether for work or education, storytellers have the upper hand too. The skills of planning, refining and choosing salient points to expand on, mean they can answer unexpected questions eloquently and succinctly (not to mention, they’re more likely than most to know the meaning of the words “eloquently” and “succinctly”!).
Storytellers are confident of their own opinion, and less likely to be swung by the whims of their peers. They think things through before acting, which helps them make wise choices.
When you give your child a love of stories, you’re giving them a whole lot more. It’s not just fairytales!
Carol Ferro tells stories to young and old alike, specialising in oral storytelling aimed at young children, and is a member of the Society for Storytellers . Qualified and experienced in early years learning with a BA in Early Years care and Education, Carole has been delighting children with her stories for several years, and regularly post examples of her short stories on her Social Media feeds.