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Tell Me a Story: Teaching Parents and Caregivers to Tell Inspiring Stories

Children learn about character and values not just through experiences, but through stories of others' experiences. Kids aged 5 and under especially love stories. Unfortunately, many parents and caregivers don't realize the importance of story-telling and even those who do, often rely on books or technology. Most are unfamiliar with the art of story-telling that our grandparents and great-grandparents seemed to know naturally. My idea is to train parents and caregivers in story-telling techniques, teach them to see stories and teachable moments in everyday situations and inspire them to invest time in telling their kids stories.

Photo of Leona Christy
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Implementing this idea would require three broad sets of activities:
  • Creating a "story-telling" workshop: In two hours, parents can learn about (1) the importance of story-telling (2) the elements of a story, (3) create their own story and get feedback from peers, (4) get story-telling templates that get them started, and (5) make a commitment to spend some time on a regular basis telling their kids stories 
  • Partnering with community-based organizations that already work with parents and caregivers to get people to sign up for the workshop
  • Identifying individuals who can deliver the workshop and train parents
Research reveals that stories play a pivotal role in developing character, identity and values. At a more personal level, I attended a story-telling workshop years ago (targeted at telling a corporate story, but the principles of story-telling are the same) and learned so much in two hours. I've used the techniques to tell my 4-year-old stories since she was born. These stories have reinforced values like grit, perseverance, kindness, empathy, and curiosity.

How could you test this idea in a quick and low-cost way right now?

Some early thoughts: 1. Develop out a workshop curriculum and identify a community partner 2. Deliver the workshop and ask parents to commit to a month of telling stories focused on one value 3. After a month, go back and evaluate: (a) how often did parents tell stories? (b) can children identify and recall the value reinforced in the stories (c) were there any instances of where children demonstrated the value?

Is this an idea that you or your organization would like to take forward?

  • Yes. I am looking for partners that might be interested in taking this idea forward in their communities.

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Photo of Sam Graham
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This is a very simple but effective idea. How would the adults create their stories? Especially within poorer communities many adults are illiterate so how could they get their stories on paper? through drawings? stickers? acting? Many different mediums they could use. Maybe through acting it would make it a more creative workshop. Would the stories be culturally fixed to their environment or would they be able to make any story of their liking?
Good idea about the workshop, maybe think about different stages and mediums in which they can display their stories.
Well done!

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