An early childhood and tertiary educator, storyteller, consultant and researcher, Dr Louise Gwenneth Phillips has more than 30 years of experience working with children across various settings. Currently, she is an associate professor on education at the Singapore campus of James Cook University. One of her research areas is storytelling in early childhood education.
“Storytelling is a universal, traditional art form that has been featured strongly in all cultures as an eff ective communication tool. Important messages are skilfully conveyed through storytelling, as the listener is entranced by the images the storyteller paints them, and brought alive by the dynamic use of voice and gestures,” she says.
Dr Phillips says storytelling also helps to inculcate a love for reading from a young age.
“Children model our behaviours, so we need to show them the wonders of reading,” she says.
She recommends that parents and educators take time to study each child and offer books that align with the child’s interests. One way to engage the children is to use their names for the characters in the story.
“This is a great way to boost their self-esteem and capture their attention,” she says.
Dr Phillips shares six ways storytelling can help children learn better.
- Trains their imagination as they get to visualise the characters and scenes.
- Enhances communication skills, by telling, listening to, understanding and interpreting stories.
- Extends their vocabulary as they hear and learn new words being used. A well-established oral vocabulary is essential for the development of their written vocabulary.
- Uses language that is more complex and structured than everyday conversations as a stepping stone for children to learn the structure of written sentences.
- Enhances comprehension skills, as children are required to listen carefully; this creates mental imagery as they have to make interpretations and connections.
- Develops social skills, as children share, discuss and work together.