Home is Where Your Story Begins and Language Grows

When I was young, my favorite time of the day was the family dinner. During dinner, we conversed about everyday topics while vying for our parents’ attention.  After dinner, while nibbling on dessert, we grew quiet in anticipation of our parents telling stories.  During these family story times, we learned how it felt to grow up on the prairie during the depression.  We learned how our parents met. We learned about ourselves as babies and toddlers. These family memories were weaved into stories that transported us to different times and places.

My siblings and I recall these stories to this very day.  Our vocabularies grew as our parents talked about churning, milk cans and threshers.  We listened with wide eyed wonder to tales of blizzards and tornadoes.  We rooted for our parents as they described attempting something they had never done before.  We grew to know people, places and ideas through rich descriptions which brought these stories to life.

Everyday conversations with children, while very important, are different from stories. Conversations are about the here and now covering topics familiar to us.  Conversational sentence length is shorter and less descriptive than stories since the speaker and listener are in the same place experiencing the same things.  Our sentences are brief because we use body language, facial expressions and the environment to add meaning to our words.

Stories on the other hand, whether told or read, kick language up a notch. Children benefit from experiencing these words on steroids.

As bloggers you participate in a form of storytelling. As you write each post, you think about the words and pictures that will best illustrate the message you want to share. Words and pictures are a powerful tool. These rich vocabulary experiences need to be shared with children.

So how can we help families develop oral story traditions? By taking time to expand our own conversations into story sharing experiences with the families and children in our lives. If you know of families who would like a few story telling ideas, I have some. As a speech and language pathologist, I am rarely at a loss for words.

A Handout to Jump Start Family Storytelling:
Home is Where Your Story Begins and Language Grows

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14 thoughts on “Home is Where Your Story Begins and Language Grows”

  1. What a lovely way to start my day! Thank you so much. I think it is a great reminder as we head into Thanksgiving and the other Holidays. Great time to start a storytelling tradition for those who haven’t got one, and a better time (and way to learn how) to start.

    Thanks! And boy, I miss those big family dinners with everyone reaching and talking and laughing.

  2. Loved this post too.
    It reminded me of our own family dinners together as I was growing up. Of course, I had 10 brothers and sisters and so with 13 at mealtime, we actually often ate in shifts. The wee little ones first, then the middle group and then the almost adults among us. I was the 7th child so I often got to sit with the older ones and that was exciting and fun. But no matter which sitting, we were often all in the kitchen together and you can only imagine the fun and lively conversations.
    GREAT blog today.
    Picturing your family enthralled with the stories of the days of old.

  3. Lovely reminder of family dinners so long ago. I think I need to start having my grandchildren here for a sit down dinner soon and start a new tradition of story telling.
    thanks for the idea. It is time to turn the story telling up a notch.

  4. Thanks for sharing. What a great reminder! “Once there was this woman from a blog called Prairie Wisdom that shared a wonderful tool to help Mommy tell stories. Would you like me to share one?” How’s that? :)

  5. My brothers kids are still young, and to connect with them, I tell them stories about when their father was a little boy. Nothing else I do enthralls them like the old stories!

  6. This is such a wonderful post! May I suggest taking it a step further and putting these stories to pen and paper or to keyboard? I was fortunate enough to have a family where my father, his eight sisters and my grandmother always told us their stories and the previous generation’s stories. As the unofficial family historian/genealogist, I have a ‘family history’ blog so that I can share these stories and old photographs with my siblings and cousins. Recording them will insure that they don’t get lost.

    1. Language, whether verbal, sign or body language, is the key to expressing our thoughts, ideas and dreams. I have the privilege of working with young children who are learning language. I can’t think of a better job in the world.

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