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Blog: The Light of Aurora

The Gift of Storytelling

08:00 AM - April 20, 2022

The Gift of Storytelling

Waldorf students are immersed in stories from early childhood through adolescence. In the early years they hear simple nature stories that gradually transition to fairy tales. Later, they listen to and read folk tales, fables, myths, legends, biographies, and stories from history. Academic topics are introduced in math, science, and history through stories.

Storytelling offers incredible educational value, including developing listening comprehension, increasing vocabulary, engaging students’ imagination, strengthening sequencing and critical thinking skills, expanding active listening and communication abilities, and developing a love for language.

While storytelling is at the heart of Waldorf education, the gift of stories can extend beyond the classroom.

Mrs. Franklin was our featured storyteller as the AWS community gathered at the grand opening of the little free library installed in honor of our 30th anniversary.

Storytelling can be a powerful way to connect with others, particularly children. Stories can share messages of hope, goodness, perseverance, and a sense that everything turns out in the end. Stories can shift the mood of a situation and offer a new perspective.

Deep within each of us are stories longing to be told, memories shared, and experiences from which others can learn. While snuggling with your loved one and reading a good book together is always enjoyable, there is a different exchange when you share what is in your heart and mind by telling a story in the oral tradition.

Parents enjoy hearing stories about their students’ class experiences during Parent Mornings.

As a mother of three, I found stories were often the perfect antidote to a sibling interaction that was beginning to turn sour. Generally, I would simply say something like, “Once upon a time, there was a little bunny who lost his way in the forest.” A simple statement like this can shift a child’s quarrelsome mood into a mood of wonder. “What happened to the bunny?” they question. With a bit of imagination, you transport your child into a healing space where they are eager to learn the ways of the world and how to get out of troubling situations. Imagination and wonder are foundational capacities that can lead to creative problem-solving.

Not comfortable with creating a tale on the spot? Think back to your favorite stories as a child. Begin storytelling by sharing something with which you have a special connection and a well-established storyline in your memory. Also, many traditional stories hold universal truths that help express moral responses to challenging situations.

Stories can also be shared through puppetry.

You may wish to share some wisdom you picked up through your life experiences. “Did I ever tell you about the time when your Uncle and I were about your age?” Children enjoy hearing about when their parents were little and may ask to hear specific stories, again and again, often the ones most embarrassing to their parents (so choose stories you don’t mind repeating).

Stories help us build and strengthen our relationships with one another. They also can help us pass family traditions down through the generations. Sometimes stories are even told through songs!

If you set an intention to tell your child a story or sing them a song, you will find opportunities throughout the day. Times that often work well include dinner preparation or while driving. This special sharing time, even if only for a few minutes, leaves everyone feeling reconnected and loved.

Jaime Thompson, Ash Grove Pre-K / Kindergarten teacher, has completed various Waldorf training programs and has an M.Ed. and B.S. in Early Childhood Education from SUNY Fredonia. She is also the proud parent of two AWS alumni and one current middle schooler.

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