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Jackie Baldwin jackie@story-lovers.com
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Innovative Projects

Parent as Storyteller

by Joan Leotta

Keywords: pre-school, elementary school

ABSTRACT

Since 1990, Joan Leotta has been working to help parents use story as a bridge to better parent-child relationships and as a door for children into the world of literacy. In her presentations she often works with parents (preparing to become volunteers) of low income and foreign birth and uses the sessions to help reinforce the parents’ self esteem and pride in their own culture as well as presenting story as a way to enrich their own knowledge of English and to show them how to use reading and storytelling to help their children succeed in school and life. She gives a similar seminar for pre-school teachers and aides.

Seminars she gives:

  • Using Story to Build Bridges in the Family
  • Volunteering in the Head Start Classroom — Making Storytime Come Alive
  • Making Pre-school Storytime Come Alive
  • Keeping Parents Involved: for pre-school teachers and aides

For several years Joan participated in the training for Fairfax Head Start Parents, and training pre-school teachers.She was also often called into schools to give talks to parent associations on how to use storytelling at home to interest children in reading.

The workshop for Head Start volunteers is designed to build their skills as storytime volunteers in the classroom. Storytelling stimulates self-confidence in their parenting skills and builds cultural bridges while helping both parent and child to strengthen communication patterns and command of English. Pride in ethnic culture is also bolstered through choice of materials. Storytelling is not a cure-all, but regular story session throughout childhood can set the state for successful dialogue between parent and child in later years.

Half of the seminar for teachers and aides at the pre-school and early elementary level is devoted to techniques to make their own telling at storytime come alive. Everything form story selection to reading to telling without the book and follow-up crafts, movement, music and story theatre are covered.

The second half of the seminar shows these teachers and aides how to involve parents in the process setting a precedent for future success in school for the children. These techniques involve story listening for the children, writing assignments that interview parents, inviting parents into the classroom, theatre activities and more.

Storytelling is not a cure-all, but regular story session throughout childhood can set the state for successful dialogue between parent and child in later years.

An article by Joan on this work appeared in Children and Families (Spring 2000), the magazine of the National Head Start Association.

Contact Info:
Joan Leotta
1002 Montgomery CT NW
Calabash, NC 28467
910-575-0618
joanleotta@atmc.net

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Copyright 2007 by Jackie Baldwin and Kathryn Eike Dudding. All Rights Reserved.