The Power of Storytelling in Early Childhood Education

Thursday - July 10, 2014

Storytelling goes beyond the typical use of reading your children a bedtime story; stories can be leveraged to teach almost any principle.


Stories can contain hidden lessons. We know this because of allegories and fairytales, where protagonists make good choices and are eventually rewarded for them. They’re an easy way to convey expectations about behavior and demonstrate elements of society, but the art of storytelling is more complex and more powerful than you might have thought.

Storytelling is an almost perfect means of teaching something. As you might already suspect or intuitively believe, it is almost always better to demonstrate a principle than to simply explain it, and stories give you the option to do just that, no matter what that principle is. They also give you an ability to make the story entertaining, so your child can make pictures in his or her head rather than regurgitating facts and figures from a blackboard.

For example, instead of explaining to your child what buoyancy is, you can tell a story to illustrate the principle. Say a man is trying to cross a river, but can’t swim well and needs something to hold onto to keep him from sinking. At the edge of the river, there are several items, including rocks and large chunks of wood. At this point, the child is immersed in the story at least to some degree, because they have a clear image in their head and an investment in the story—the man has to find a way to cross. Once the child is hooked on something like that, and trying to figure out why something would or would not work in that situation, they’ll be able to remember the lesson more distinctly in the future.

If you’re having difficulty explaining a concept or teaching a lesson in any subject, try using a story to illustrate it.

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