Narrative Skills

NARRATIVE SKILLS are…
An ability to understand and tell stories and describe events.

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?  Narrative skills help children learn story structure, predict what will happen in a story, understand what they read, and build critical thinking skills.

BUILD THE SKILL:

Babies
• Talk to your baby as you go through your day, telling him what you are doing.
• Listen to your baby’s responses when you talk – it may be a sound, a wiggle, or an expression – and respond back.
• Share nursery rhymes and bounces with a strong sequence. As you sing them over and over, she’s learning that certain sounds and actions can be anticipated.
• Share books that relate to your baby’s life and talk about what you see in the pictures.

Toddlers
• Narrate the day for your toddler, from the repetition of getting dressed to talking about what you are going to do later.  For familiar activities, ask what comes next – “shoes or socks next? Can you hand me one?”
• Listen to your child’s questions and pause to give him time to repeat a word or two.   Ask her “what do you see?” or “what happened?” Affirm and enrich her simple answer with a descriptive word “Yes! It’s a brown doggie”.
• Rhyme: Some nursery rhymes are mini-narratives with a beginning, middle and end.
• Read books with a simple plot in which something happens.
• Read and re-read books that give your child a chance to participate by saying what’s coming next, lifting the flaps, or making animal noises.
• Share simple wordless or nearly wordless books and encourage your child to help “read” the story.

Preschoolers
• Give your child lots of opportunities to talk with you.
• Ask questions that can’t be answered with a “yes” or “no”. Encourage your child to think and increase their understanding.
• Read books with a repeated pattern or cumulative structure.
• Enjoy wordless and nearly wordless books that have more complex plots and details. Let your pre-reader help build the narrative by ‘reading’ the pictures.
• Retell favorite stories. Use toys or props to extend the fun and stretch imaginative skills.
• Create verbal stories together. Start with “once upon a time there was a ____” and let your preschooler fill in the blank. Take turns building and retelling the narrative with a beginning, middle, and end.
• Create pictures and books that tell a story. Have your child draw the pictures and tell you the words to write down. Make a scene with stickers and write down what he says is happening.
• Play and imagine. When your preschooler imagines, you are invited into a world-building narrative. Enjoy the adventure together.