Teachers from Star Learners Child Care share their experiences on using award-winning stories to help children learn everything from maths to character values.
Every child loves a good story. But what do stories and storytelling have to do with helping your child learn and develop better as an individual?
Plenty, according to the curriculum experts from Star Learners Child Care. By harnessing the magic of stories, children learn more effectively as they are actively engaged, and develop important skills that will lay a foundation for their holistic development. And yes, it applies even to areas such as science and maths.
Here, English teachers Sharfina Binte Abdul Nasser from Star Learners at Choa Chu Kang Sports Centre, and Wen Haoting from Star Learners at Yung Ho, share their experiences on how this unique learning approach helps children learn better.
How do stories help children in their learning and development?
With stories, children learn while immersed in rich and exciting worlds. They gain an early start on reading and writing, and their sense of discovery is piqued as they learn. They are also encouraged to draw meaningful connections with real-world contexts, and given opportunities to express their thoughts. All these while having fun!
By delving deep into stories to understand the characters’ points of view and the conflicts presented, children also begin to understand the feelings of others. Not only does this help with a child’s social and emotional growth, it shapes the development of their character and values.
How are stories used in learning activities?
More than just reading the stories to the children, we develop activities with and around the stories.
To do this, a carefully curated selection of stories from around the world, including award-winning titles, are integrated into the children’s daily lessons and activities, as well as during excursions.
Every time we begin a new book, we engage the children with sensorial activities to introduce them to the story setting and characters. Bringing the story to life works especially well with the younger children in the playgroup and nursery levels.
Take the storybook titled Flashlight, by Lizi Boyd, for instance. This wordless picture book is about a boy’s adventure as he walks through a forest with a flashlight. Teachers dim the lights in the room and invite the children to shine a torchlight as they walked around the classroom to reveal the pages of the storybook. Scattered dried leaves on the floor simulate textures and sounds found in a forest setting.
Reading, writing, craftwork, numeracy, and even motor skills development activities, are planned around the story. Because the learning process becomes fun, it helps children stay focused and increases their motivation to learn.
The children are given opportunities to apply the skills they picked up through the process of creating their own stories. For Kindergarten 2 children, our proprietary Write a Rainbow programme provides them with a platform to work in teams to write and illustrate their own stories. They can produce their own stories using various forms, such as Kamishibai story cards (a form of storytelling that originated in Japan), e-books, or even present their stories in the form of a drama skit.
The process of creating a story, from storyboarding to developing the plot and characters, builds the children’s creative and critical thinking capabilities, and they grow to become more confident communicators.
How are children exposed to subjects like maths and science through stories and storytelling?
When teachers use literature to teach science and maths concepts, it is more meaningful to children as it provides them with the context to understand these concepts.
For example, the story, The Great Moon Confusion, by Richard Byrne, explains the concept of whole and halves through the illustration of the moon’s orbit and changing phases. The children gain a better understanding of fractions and how this relates to our daily lives.
How else does the use of stories as a learning approach help give my child a head start?
Besides exposing children to different cultures, perspectives and ways of problem-solving, stories and storytelling develop children into emphatic thinkers and open collaborators.
For example, through the story, The Invisible Boy, by Trudy Ludwig, the children learn about respecting the “invisible” people in society. One of our teachers recounted that after she shared the story, one child learnt that expressing her appreciation for people who work hard to contribute to the community would help show her gratitude. She started saying “thank you” to cleaners and workers on the streets, who often smiled back in return.
Soft skills like respect, empathy and the ability to learn from different perspectives, are some things that we focus a lot on as part of children’s character development as we believe it prepares every child for the future, beyond just academic success.
I read to my children at home. Is this sufficient? How can I adopt the same approach at home?
Unlike reading a storybook aloud to children and referring to the illustrations, storytelling requires the storyteller to internalise the story and be sensitive to the interactions with the audience. Hence, a different set of skills are required in storytelling.
At Star Learners, teachers invite children to participate in storytelling. This not only builds healthy and positive relationships in childhood, it enhances the learning experience. The two-way interaction also helps in the children’s ability to recall and comprehend information. Storytelling sparks imagination and curiosity, improves your child’s developing literacy and verbal proficiency. More importantly, it sets the foundation for a lifelong love of learning.
Parents are strongly encouraged to do the same at home! Pick your child’s favourite story, round up some props and start a storytelling session. Not just fun for the child, but fun for the family, too!
How do parents of children enrolled in Star Learners Child Care feel about the school’s unique literature-based curriculum, which focuses on stories and storytelling?
Stories and literature may not be the first things that come to mind when we talk about academic excellence. However, many parents whose children have gone through Star Learners’ literature-based curriculum observe improved literacy and verbal proficiency in their children.
Using a proprietary framework called Starbeam, teachers at Star Learners use a unique literature-based curriculum that taps on the power of award-winning stories and storytelling to engage children’s imagination and stimulate critical thinking, helping them become better learners.
Over time, children become creative thinkers as well as better problem-solvers and confident communicators. They also develop a love of learning, which is an important trait to cultivate from a young age for success in school and later in life.
For more information on Star Learners’ literature-based curriculum and programmes, visit http://starlearners.com.sg/curriculum/our-programmes/.
— Brought to you by Star Learners Group —