Story Telling

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One of the key components to expanding a child’s vocabulary, developing precise grammar, and increasing social skills is teaching your child how to create a story or a narrative. This key skill assists children with learning how to structure their thoughts to produce an organized narrative. Hence, if your child is having difficulty expressing themselves, this should be one of the skills you should capitalize in teaching. So how do you do it? Before we dive in, keep in mind there are macrostructures and microstructures when it comes to storytelling. In this blog we will be covering the macrostructures.  

Macrostructures of Story Telling (Stein & Glenn, 1979)

Setting

This is the introduction of the characters and the location of where the story is beginning. This can also include when the story is taking place.

Sally and Jimmy were playing in their front yard after school.

Initiating event/problem

Every story has an underlying issue or problem that is involved. Though it is exciting to get to this point immediately, describing the setting first is vital for developing the problem.

While Jimmy was running away from Sally, he fell over and scratched his knee. He started crying loudly.

Attempt Action

This is this part about the problem being resolved or fixed though an action.

Sally ran into the house, grabbed a band aid, and rushed outside to put it on Jimmy.

Consequence

During this component the storyteller should explain the outcome of the previous action.

He slowly stopped crying, and they both were holding each as they walked into the house. Sally said, “Its okay Jimmy. Mom’s kiss will make it all better.”

Internal Response

Healthy story telling engages the audience not only through the action but also though emotion. Make sure the story includes how the characters are thinking, feeling, or overall state-of-being with one or more characters.

Jimmy felt loved by what his sister did and said. He responded by saying, “I love mom’s kisses”

Ending

This is the resolution (final nail in the coffin) to the problem of the story. A good habit to create during this last component is giving a summary of the story. 

Once inside the house Mom rushed to Jimmy, kissed his knee, and gave him a big hug. Everyone was smiling and happy. The end.

Dialogue

Having a conversation or dialogue in the story is also something that needs to be included. As seen above a brief dialogued occurred, however, it is acceptable for the storyteller to report that a dialogue occurred. See below for an example.

After mom kissed Jimmy, she told him to take a shower and talked to Sally about chasing her brother.

Your child most likely will have difficulty remembering all the components and will not know how to compose a well-structured story from the get-go. Teaching this will take time. Nevertheless, the impact it will make on them will be immense. Lastly, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Learn how to listen all the way through. Do your best to not interrupt and remember what you wanted to correct
  • Make sure to highlight when they included a component and praise them for it
  • Sometimes it helps to point out directly what they missed but most often it goes over easier to ask a leading question to show what they missed
    • Example: If they missed the internal response ask, “How did Jimmy feel when Sally comforted him?”
  • There are developmental levels to creating a story. Please see page 6 in this link (Stein & Glenn, 1979)
  • If your child is having difficulty with this, you should set up an appointment with a Speech-Language Pathologist
  • If they are good at storytelling, teach them a new word and challenge them to use it in a story

Words, Words, Words!

Using specific words with children is important for their vocabulary development. For example, the directive, “Put it over there,” is very unclear. A specific way to give instructions would be to say, “Put the cup on the table.” This utterances labels two objects (nouns), the cup and the table. It also uses the the location word (preposition) on. This could be turned into a fun game of Simon says which would target following directions but also vocabulary. Then reinforcing what the child did with specific vocabulary is also important, “You put the cup on the table!”

Another idea is also model what you do, for example, say, “I put the cup on the table.” Narrating what you are doing or what I also call “thinking out loud” is a great way to provide a language rich environment for children. While cooking dinner, you might say, “Tonight we’re having spaghetti for dinner. First I need a pot. Then I fill the pot up with water and boil it. Next, I put the spaghetti in the pot. It will cook for 8 minutes and then I will drain the spaghetti.”

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Healthy Mouth Development

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Does your child snore? Is your child’s mouth open at rest/sleep like the baby in the photo above? Does your child drool? Does your child mouth non-edible items? Does your child resist toothbrushing? Do you consider your child a picky eater? Did/does your child have a tongue tie? Does your child have speech sound errors? Is your child resistant to putting items in their mouth? Does your child have a strong gag reflex? These behaviors are not typical and may be an indication that something is going on in your child’s mouth, which could be corrected. If you answered yes to any of these questions, please contact us!

Manners

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Should we teach children manners? Yes, absolutely! Manners should be taught once children have language. For children who do not have language, their attempts to communicate are for the primary purpose of living, in other words getting their wants and needs met.  By expecting children to use please to request what they want, they are at a disadvantage because they do not have the vocabulary to request specific objects. Thus, communicative partners have the burden of deciding what the child needs or wants. This can lead to frustration and communicative breakdowns if the communicative partner is unable to figure out what the child needs or wants. Imagine a child walking up to their Kindergarten teacher and saying, “Please.” The teacher will have no idea what the child is requesting.

Words associated with manners are abstract (hard to understand) because they are not related to concrete items/objects. Children’s first words are nouns (people, places, things). Let’s teach children these types of words (mom, dad, milk, water, cheese, blocks, bubbles, etc.) so they can make specific requests. Once children are producing multi-word utterances, they also have the cognitive ability to understand manners. For example, when children are using sentences like, ” I want milk,” adding the word “please,” is appropriate. Then expecting them to say, “thank you,” when receiving the desired item is also appropriate.

 

 

 

Stuttering

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Did you know that stuttering is also known as speech fluency? All people experience dysfluent speech at times. Dysfluent speech ranges from word finding difficulties to initial sound, syllable, and word repetitions. Dysfluent speech becomes problematic when it impacts one’s ability to successfully communicate with others. Patient and family education is an important part of fluency therapy.

Picky Eaters?

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Did you know children are not born as picky eaters? Eating is very complicated with experiences being shaped from birth, such as breastfeeding versus bottle feeding to when children are exposed to solid foods. Picky eating develops from parents’ eating habits, eating experiences or lack of, lack of skills necessary for eating a variety of foods, and sensory issues. Speech Language Pathologists (SLP) are not commonly known as professionals who can assist with infant feeding issues. However, an SLP with training on healthy mouth development for feeding and speech development and sensory feeding issues may be an important team member in targeting feeding issues.

Watch for Hearing Problems

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Did you know children can have an ear infection without ever showing signs or symptoms? How can this happen? Well, there can be fluid on the inner side of tympanic membrane, most commonly known as the ear drum. When this happens, the fluid cannot be viewed by a doctor with an otoscope. It can also not be detected by brief screenings done in a pediatrician’s office. Only a special machine used by an audiologist (hearing specialist) can detect such fluid by indicating the inner ear is not functioning properly. If such ear infections are not detected, they cause a temporary hearing loss until detected. Any time there is a hearing loss, it sounds like you are under water. Multiple or extended episodes of fluid in the ears can cause damage resulting in hearing loss. When the sounds of a language are not heard clearly due to ear infections or hearing loss, it can impact speech and language development. If you know a child who is quiet, not making sounds, he/she may need a hearing assessment and a speech and language assessment.

There can be fluid on the inner side of tympanic membrane, most commonly known as the ear drum.