Do you remember story time on ‘the mat’ when you were a kid at school? I certainly have fond memories of the teacher telling stories, some from memory, but most often from a book. We all had our special places to sit and habitual behaviours that seemed to help with concentration as the story was being read. It was a time, usually in the afternoon before the home time bell went, when the whole class was relaxed and focussed on what the teacher was saying.
To be continued …
As a teacher, I too, continued with this tradition. At teachers college I learned about the benefits of reading to my students, but, at the time, I never really thought about the way this seemingly simple act of storytelling had such a positive effect on the students. Story time had the affect of unifying my class. Sitting together as one; quiet, listening, and with imaginations in full swing, watching the action unfold in front of the mind’s eye.
I enjoyed watching the students’ reactions out of the corner of my eye as I read crucial parts of the story. I remember the groan of disappointment as we finished a chapter that left us all hanging in suspense — to be continued the next day! And I was always impressed with what the students could recall about the story, even if we had had a break from it for a week or so. The story also created many opportunities for lively discussion that often promoted learning opportunities in several areas of the curriculum.