Narrative/Story telling skills can be in either spoken or written form.
For young children, around 2-3 years their narrative skills level usually allows them to be able to:
Label objects and actions
Talk in the present tense about what’s happening in the here & now, although stories may not be in a sequential order
For children, around 4-5 years their developing narrative skills level usually allows them to be able to:
Talk about a simple sequences of events
Start to link events – and realise that one event will have an affect on another
Develop understanding of story sequencing … that is, that narratives have a beginning, a middle and an end
For children, around 8-9 years their developing narrative skills level usually allows them to be able to:
Give a narrative with a developed plot and fairly complex structure
Begin to understand character’s feelings and point of view
Understand how the ending relates to the beginning and middle of the story
Children with weak narrative skills may experience difficulties with:
- developing social relationships
- accessing the full curriculum
- reading for meaning and inference
- general language skills and vocabulary
- more complex grammar
- spelling and punctuation
Playing sequencing games and teaching question words will help to develop your child’s narrative skills.
Even with very young children, playing ‘Cause and Effect’ games will help them develop an understanding the one event will lead to another. ‘Pop up’ toys are great for this.
As children get a little older and their vocabulary range widens, early stories will help children’s narrative understanding and help to develop more complex cause and effect understanding (eg Lift the flap books).
In our Sprites class (12 months+) our younger members will be benefitting from early picture labeling games and our older members will be using the picture cards to benefit from early narrative cause and effect games.
At around 2+ yrs children begin to understand that sequences of effects have order to them …. so for example, night follows day and that there’s certain things we do in the daytime and certain things at nighttime.
In our Sprinters class (2 - 3 yrs) we will be playing with specially created picture cards to help children sort activities in to sequences … such as starting with a full glass of drink and finishing with an empty glass.
As children are heading towards the pre-school age, they are, with support, able to recognise and order 3 picture card sequences that have a beginning, middle and end.
To help children’s narrative skills continue to develop in to school, it’s good to talk about, make up and play with stories working out the 4 Wh’s (who? where? when? what?)
Who …. Who is the story about? (eg; character)
Where …Where does the story take place? (eg; setting)
When … When does it happen ? (eg: time of day / period)
What … What is the story about? (eg; what happens in the story)
You can start teaching narrative structure early … as young as 2 years of age!
Here are our Top Tips for reading with your little one:
1. Reading is a journey of exploration for babies. Curved corners are ideal for nibbling, while flaps and textures are irresistible to little fingers.
2. Animal stories are perfect for encouraging children to communicate before they can form words - encourage your baby to join in with animal sounds as you read the story.
3. At a young age, reading is a visual experience, so look for books with bright, simple illustrations. Place your baby’s hands on objects as you read the words – this helps him to associate the object he sees with the spoken word.
4. Bedtime stories are a great way to teach children that words and language are fun! Lose your inhibitions and join in with silly voices, sound effects and funny faces.
5. As your baby gets older, he will love “naming” objects and pointing to pictures when prompted.
6. Toddlers are independent, so be sure to let them choose the story and take charge of turning pages.
7. When you’re reading, pause every so often to let your child guess the next word or line. This will be easier if the book has simple language with lots of rhyme and repetition. With a little practice, your child may even learn a favourite story by heart.
8. Look for books with rhymes. Learning about rhyming sounds is an important building block of literacy, and it helps children to guess what's coming next. As she gets older, your toddler will love catching you out when you get the words wrong. This game helps to develop memory and attention skills, as well as boosting self-esteem.
9. At some point, you'll probably find yourself reading the same book every night for a month. Don't worry - repetition is a great memory-building tool, and a familiar book can be a great comfort to a tired toddler.
10. Younger toddlers tend to enjoy stories about everyday experiences they can relate to, but from the age of three, children begin to realise that things aren't always what they seem. This makes it the perfect time to introduce stories with jokes and tricks - the sillier the better!
11. Always discuss stories with your children. In the early days, this might mean asking them to point to objects on the pages. As they get older, talk about what might happen next, or whether the characters in the story were happy or brave.
12. As your child nears school age, begin tracing words with your finger as you read. Ask your child to identify the sound that words start with, or words on the page that rhyme. These activities help develop pre-literacy skills, which are vital in helping children learn to read and write.
Most of all ... have fun!
Lisa & Tracey