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Benefits of Educating Children With Stories

Are you tired of hearing about the poor performance level of American children when placed on the international scales? Or the increasing drop-out problem, substance abuse, crime, teen pregnancies, disrespect in schools, ignorance of what else goes in other cultures and the decline in morals? I agree, many demographic factors work interactively to complicate matters.

The question, however, is, is learning fun, encouraging, inclusive, and does it address different disciplines simultaneously? I mean learning at home, in churches, youth camps and in schools. All these entities associated with learning need to identify and use a time-tested strategy that motivates and builds self appreciation, embodies whole language, incorporates interdisciplinary learning, teaches in-depth thinking skills and learning styles and creates an environment for team-setting learning and enhancement of social skills.

I suggest that stories need to be placed where they belong? at the core of formal and non-formal educational programs.

How will stories motivate and build self-appreciation for individual American students? An opportunity to be heard and participate elevates a student?s self appreciation to a higher notch. It?s not unusual for problematic Children who would rather be quiet and carry out orders to utilize the spontaneity, character play and sense of humor in storytelling to bridge their present and future with hope and determination. Important life lessons, e.g., morals, character, persistence, respect for elders, avoidance of destructive habits or associations are learned without children feeling they are being imposed.

I grew up in Kangundo, Kenya, African and storytelling was a part of life. Looking back, I believe children, unknowingly mastered whole language, that is critical for success in school and in general life for the American child. Yet, choosing an approach that addresses the needs of whole language is a challenge educators, parents, youth leaders and preachers have to face constantly. Whole language is embodied in stories in that there is communication (speaking and listening). In speaking children learn to articulate, interpret dramatic expressions, and gain performing arts? skills. Listening to stories improves vocabulary, ability to acquire and synthesis information either silently or by participation, like rhyming, or singing. You may say people also get connected to their emotions by listening to stories. When children read good stories, they want to read more because of the intrinsic motivation factor that is in stories. Stories add value to writing. When people write what they feel, think and hold dear, writing begins to have distinct purpose.

With the world becoming more of ?a village? due to technology and international trade, American children need to know about other cultures/places/practices to be successful within the village. Most stories present different cultures with exposure to variety of traditional practices, menus, people and natural resources. Stories provide an opportunity to teach multi-cultural backgrounds, differences, inter-cultural problem solving skills and how to build and maintain relationships. Artistic expressions like drawing, dancing, playing music or singing aid in application of a story?s lessons to an individual?s life in and out his/her culture.

Stories present a rare opportunity of teaching in-depth thinking skills such as sequential memory, interpretation, application, summarization, prediction of events to come after hearing part of the story and suggesting ways to get a character out of trouble.

How do we involve all children in the learning process in American environments? In stories, the spoken word and clear descriptions cater to auditory learners. The often-used props and vivid imagery address the needs of visual learners. The strong feelings and emotions involved provide a good environment for affective learners. Participation opportunity cater to kinesthetic learners.

Millions of dollars are spend annually to train employees on how to work in team settings. American children can be given a head-start on this crucial area through storytelling. They learn the importance of commitment, connection, respect, trust, communication conflict management and change-handling skills.

With learning being fun, encouraging, inclusive, and addressing different disciplines simultaneously chances are that performance will improve. There will be fewer drop-out problems, substantial decrease in substance abuse, crime, and teen pregnancies. Respect at homes and in schools will be restored. And other worlds will be no strange lands.

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