Writing: Storytelling on a Page

storytelling

Storytelling is a key building block for developing writing skills in young children.


The common cry a parent is sure to hear from their child at one time or another is, “I have to write about what I did over the summer and I don’t know what to say. I hate writing! I can’t write.”! Translation…I am not comfortable writing.

Unfortunately, most of us don’t prepare our children to write the way we prepare them to know the alphabet, to count and to develop other learning skills during their preschool and kindergarten years. Yet, writing is a skill that most of us will need and use for the rest of our lives. Being comfortable writing and writing well is critical to our academic and employment success.

I am not talking about grammar, punctuation or understanding sentence structure. These skills will be taught in school. I refer to the ability to describe something on paper that was seen, heard, read or told about.

It’s about storytelling.

Not just the stories you read to your child from a book but the storytelling that comes from sharing family history or events or making up stories about everyday activities as you spend time with your child. While being read to captures a child’s interest, expands his/her knowledge and fosters creative thinking, which are all building blocks of writing skills, the ability to tell and write a story must be practiced like any other skill.

Most of my life I’ve earned an income from writing…a biography, articles, technical writing, reports, recipes, programs for children, grants,web content and blogging. I owe my comfort and enjoyment of writing to my extended family. By the time I was two years old, my godmother and grandparents were telling me stories and helping me to tell stories about the things I saw when out walking or visiting with them. Even before I could write, they encouraged me to tell them stories and they wrote them down for me. Then the stories were scotch taped to their refrigerator for all to read. I couldn’t wait until I had the skills to write my own stories. It was all the motivation I needed to learn the alphabet and begin writing.

There is no more undivided attention a child can have than time spent with an adult or older sibling exploring something new, talking about it, making up a story about it. It can be as simple as a trip to the supermarket, a walk in the park, helping to wash the family car or assisting in preparing a meal.

As important as talking about what you see or hear or are doing is guiding your child through making up a story about what he or she is seeing or doing. At first, you will need to ask your child questions to trigger storytelling. After awhile that won’t be necessary.

Storytelling is a family affair and one that offers a role for grandparents and other relatives. Photo albums, attics full of stuff, and scrapbooks are just some of the things that can spark stories. Recording the story is a critical part of the process. Being able to look at and refer to his or her story, in writing, builds a child’s confidence and establishes a comfort level about writing.

If a child can view writing as storytelling on a page, be it paper or computer, he or she is on track for enjoying and not dreading writing.

Writing with Wendy , a “Can Do” Feature

writingWriting with Wendy is an early childhood writing skills development resource.

Writing with Wendy offers parents and other family members, as well as teachers, suggestions and exercises for helping children 3-7 years develop pre-writing and writing skills that will make writing a comfortable activity, to be enjoyed, not avoided. Writing with Wendy is all about engaging children in writing activities and creating a foundation that children can build on when the need to write for school and for personal use.

Writing with Wendy is built on the premise that writing begins with storytelling. If you can tell a story, you can write a story. Since parents are the first story tellers, mostly through reading to their children, they have much to share with their children about storytelling and eventually writing .

The suggestions offered in Writing with Wendy give parents and other caregivers simple activities to do with their child(ren) that stimulate  storytelling skills. The activities focus on developing a child’s observational and descriptive skills both of which are important to good storytelling and writing.  Most of the activities give children opportunities for recognition and make them comfortable with sharing their storytelling and writing with others.

While there is a message for parents and teachers about the site and how to use it, there is also a message from Wendy for children visiting the site with their parents. Wendy is the “Can Do” Kid who likes to write. To her writing is fun. In her message she talks to the children visiting the site about writing and why it is important.

The site is divided into four sections:  Pre-K, Kindergarten, 1st Grade, and 2nd Grade. Each section includes suggestions for helping children develop storytelling skills and using  those skills for writing  stories. There are 3 activities in each section to jump start the process. Each week a new activity will be added to each section.

The 1st and 2nd grade sections also include an overview of what writing skills children will be expected to develop and use successfully in these early grades.

As Wendy puts it, “Just think of writing as storytelling on a page. Then writing will be interesting and fun!

To Access Writing with Wendy go to http://candostreet.com/writing_with_wendy/

Let’s Help Our Children With Storytelling

Dear Readers,

The children’s blog, that went up on Sept 21st, is about storytelling. 

storytellingStorytelling has almost become a lost art for many children. Yet, encouraging children to tell stories is the natural first step to transitioning them to writing stories. Simply put, good writing content comes from good storytelling. Coupled with good grammar, punctuation, and spelling a child can be a confident writer who enjoys, rather than dreads,  the writing process.

During the next few children’s blogs, the “Can Do” kids will be introduced to the art of oral and written storytelling by Storyteller Bill Wood, who began telling stories, writing stories, and putting on plays as a young boy. Now a senior, long involved in community theater, he is once again writing for children and producing children’s theater.

In the blog on the 26th, children will review a familiar children’s story that’s a bit on the scary side . They will see that the story can be made less scary, even funny, and still carry a learning lesson.

From time to time, I would like to use the children’s blog to continue encouraging children to practice storytelling.

As grandmas and grandpas,  moms and dads, aunts and uncles, teachers and coaches of young children, you all  have stories you can share.  I am inviting all who are reading this blog  to send me a story you have written,  or that was told to you as a young child, and now you tell to your children .

Once a month, we will pick a story for publication on the children’s site. Full credit will be given to the author of the story. Please send your story to me, jeanc@candostreet.com.

Let’s make writing interesting and fun by sharing our gift of storytelling! Let’s start sharing our stories!

All the best,

Jean

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