Narrative Skills to Support the Understanding of Different Writing Styles
Narrative skills are based on understanding and using expressive language. This is the kind of language we use to describe things and feelings, to tell events in order and to recall and tell stories.
Children develop their narrative skills over time taking prior knowledge, what they already know, and building on this through:
- Conceptual thinking; the development of concepts such as shape, colour, the passing of time; as well as developing and using strategies for problem solving and prediction (thinking skills).
- Content knowledge; what they already know about the topic/situation; the ability to relate situations to their own experiences, the ability to sequence events in a logical order as well as to sequence processes such as getting dressed or making things.
- Understanding that different genres are set out in different ways, story structure such as that used in fairy tales is different from that used for poetry or informational text (explaining things) or instructional text (how to do something) such as a recipe.
Developing Narrative Skills:
- Role play different situations; doctor’s, school, office, shops etc.
- Dramatic and imaginative play; acting out stories together using props and/or puppets and toys.
- Matching and sorting games to develop understanding of concepts such as colour, shape and size.
- Puzzles for developing problem solving skills.
- Ask your child to draw pictures for a story and you write the words
- Ask your child to draw or write (make mind maps) of the things they already know about something.
- Ask them to draw different shapes in different sizes and to use specific colours for them.
- With older children make and draw charts and graphs for classifying objects.
Through Songs/Nursery Rhymes:
Children’s songs and nursery rhymes cover a wide range of concepts:
- Everyday sequences such as in the nursery rhyme ‘Here we go Round the Mulberry Bush’ which uses the phrase ‘This is the way we…’ to order the event of getting up in the morning.
- Introduce concepts such as size, colours, shapes and numbers such as “One, two, three, four, five once I caught a fish alive…”
- Tell stories for example ‘Baa Baa Black Sheep’ or ‘We’re going on a Bear Hunt’ by Michael Rosen & Helen Oxenbury.
- As your child explores objects, describe them and their uses; compare and contrast objects.
- Remember to give your child time to work things out, or to solve a problem. It can take a child several minutes sometimes to process what they have heard and to formulate a response.
- Talk about concepts such as shape, colour, size, texture.
- Explain and use language that explains where things are in relation to each other (spatial awareness) such as above, below, on top of, next to, first, etc.
- Help your child to develop an awareness of time, not just the here and now but what happened in the past and might happen in the future.
- Put processes into sequence using things like recipes, making things or how plants grow, the passing of time, weeks, months, seasons etc.
- Encourage your child to recount their day or to re-tell a story.
- Encourage your child to tell you what they know about something as well as sharing what you know.
- When sharing information explain how you learned about it; read it in a book or on the internet or heard it on the TV or radio.
- Encourage your child to guess and predict what might happen.
- Encourage your child to solve problems or resolve conflicts; if you do it for them explain what you did and why.
- Embed conversation into everyday routines such as getting dressed, meal times and bed time.
Through Book Sharing:
What books to choose?
- Books that tell a cumulative tale
- Books with a natural sequence
- Books with a repeated phrase or repetition as part of the story
- Poetry books
- Non-fiction books
Book Sharing Tips
- Read books on topics that interest your child.
- Ask your child to tell you what they know about the book you are reading.
- Encourage your child to join in while sharing a book, saying repeated phrases for example.
- Read with expression.
- Encourage your child to re-tell the story.
- Re-read books so that your child can become familiar with the story, making it easier to re-tell the story.
- Relate what is happening in the story to your own child’s experiences or ask then to tell you how it might relate to them.
- Use props to tell the story to help your child remember the sequence of the story. They may find using props a great way to re-tell you the story.
- Encourage your child to talk about the pictures. Take their lead and try to ask open-ended question (those that cannot be answered by yes or no).
- Talk about the books you like and what you like about them.
- If your child loses interest, try again another time.
- Talk about the pictures in a book or sections of a story and let your child tell you their thoughts about what is happening and might happen next.