Why Every Class Should Immerse Young Learners in a Story

In my time teaching young learners, I have learned a lot about what the students enjoy and what they can manage. One thing I have learned is how to structure a session to keep children engaged and focused. The key is…storytelling.

Why is Storytelling Effective?

Children like and need structure. Operating in a clearly structured environment helps kids to learn more effectively by taking the pressure off their developing pre-frontal cortex. When the teacher runs a clearly structured class, the students feel safe in knowing that everything is under control. You are more likely to encounter behavioural problems if students aren’t confident that the teacher has control of the class.

Now, you could simply assign specific times to specific activities but in my experience, that doesn’t always work. If there is a particular activity that a child doesn’t like, they can consistently check out when you attempt it. This could end up disrupting the rest of the group if they have a meltdown about not wanting to participate.

When your class has a clear narrative or theme, the students become invested in the story. While they may dislike a particular activity, when it is part of a journey, I find they are more likely to cooperate. When they are invested in the story and it’s outcome, they become less easily bored.

Storytelling is also a great way to reduce the anxiety associated with tasks children struggle with. It can help you to balance your class and include include elements that connect with all kids, regardless of their preferred learning styles.

How Can You Still Be Flexible in a More Structured Class?

It’s important with younger students to be flexible and able to adapt to their energy level. You can do this by setting a clear theme for the session and choosing activities related to this theme. In this way, you can swap in activities to bring the energy up or down without deviating from your theme.

What about if there are moments in your story that require a particular activity? Over planning can help you move on from an activity more quickly if it’s not working for your class. For an hour long session plan roughly ninety minutes of activities. In this way, if they aren’t enjoying something you can ditch it ASAP and move on. Also, if things take less time than expected you have backup activities ready to go!

Silly Fish Learning offer custom curricula to cover all your main objectives while infusing your topic with more creativity and storytelling! Our custom scripts, including preschool performance packages, can even help you work towards a small performance over a set period of time. Visit our services page for more information or get in touch for a no obligation chat!

Rebecca is the founder and chief executive officer of Silly Fish Learning Ltd. She is a children's playwright with a vast and varied career in education, primarily teaching drama and English.

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