What would happen if we expanded our definition of early literacy to include and honour the stories children tell through their playful exploration of the materials around them? What opportunities, growth and potential for developing creativity would occur if we allowed for the idea in our classrooms that literacy – in particular writing – begins with and flows from the storytelling lives of the children?
I believe that building on the storytelling abilities that children already use in their play builds on prior abilities and allows for a natural progression along a continuum in the communication of ideas. At the Opal School, the idea of Story Workshop incorporates the arts and draws upon children’s natural tendency to tell their stories through their play and their creations as the starting place for working towards sharing stories via the written word. (To find out more, visit http://opalschoolblog.typepad.com/opal-school-blog/story-workshop/) Often, I have watched children draw or paint, so engrossed in what they are doing that they appear to be living their artwork, complete with conversation, movement and sound effects. This work is the beginning of their narrative development as they learn to share fantastical stories, sometimes based in their lived experiences and sometimes purely imaginary.
How can we value the natural stories children play out in their daily lives as the beginnings of literacy? How can we honour its place in their lives and make it a stepping stone in their further growth?
How can we value the storytelling lives of our developing authors?
Written by Sandra Rosekat