Teaching Pre-School Children: The Importance of Stories

Herbert Puchta

In this week’s webinar, Super Safari author Herbert Puchta discusses the importance of stories in teaching pre-school children. After explaining what makes stories so essential to young learners, he provides suggestions for selecting and creating effective stories, then gives practical tips on working with stories in the classroom.

Puchta explains that we use stories in the classroom for a number of reasons, the first being that they grab children’s attention. Stories provide more than a simple encounter with words. They take children on a journey that helps them make meaning of language.

Oral stories are particularly important. For both adults and children language is perceived largely through sound, which many people believe links to a primitive human instinct. It’s easy to ignore words on a page, but humans are hard wired to pay attention to sounds, which in many instances provide information vital to survival. A caveman who ignored the sound of a lion did so at his own peril, to name but one of countless examples. If you have trouble getting through to a young learner, as many people report, an oral story is often the ideal vehicle.

Stories are also important because they allow us to simulate intense experiences without actually having to live through them. They teach us lessons that help us to survive and make sense of the word. They also help us in a social sense. By identifying with protagonists, children experience things as if they really happened to them. They learn right and wrong, and they learn to put themselves in other people’s shoes.

But what makes a successful story? One crucial ingredient is emotional contrasts like happy/sad. These are the basic platforms that help convey important values to young learners. Learning values helps children understand and respond to life situations, and realise life is not just about play. Teaching values using modals, by saying “this is right” and “this is wrong” isn’t nearly as effective as presenting these ideas through stories.

Puchta closes the webinar by providing practical tips for storytelling with very young learners, such as using a special space in your classroom for storytelling, acting out stories with children, and more.

To hear the rest of the practical tips and to watch the webinar in full, press play on the video below.

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