Thursday, April 14, 2011

"Children Learn with Stories," by Suzanne McPherson

Are you looking for a new way to teach your children manners? Have you prepared your child for the surgery of a loved one? Do they know what happens at a funeral? Obviously these things don't just come up in every day conversation, however preparing young people for common situations before they happen is difficult. Writing about an emotionally scary thing and reading it to your child before something happens can prepare them for an upcoming uncomfortable event.

Thirty-two years ago my grandmother began writing an annual family Easter story. In the beginning each child, had a speaking part and she left blanks in sentences to add their friends names. Now, I am committed to continue to write the Easter story. The story is then printed out on the printer and mailed out to all of my aunts and uncles and cousins. The purpose of the story is to teach lessons to the kids, in a non-threatening sort of way. Each child still has speaking parts and they all live in the Magic Forest with characters that have been inspired by my grandmother, Beatrix Potter and Mother Goose. Through the years I have changed the story from what my grandmother had been writing, but we both hold the same idea that it must include Easter, as a religious holiday, and a lesson. As the years have gone on I have also been including things from my grandmothers past, a time before the kids were born, to help them learn about her.

As an example one story I have written involves someone having surgery. I take one of the animals, Peter Rabbit, and write about the medical process as you would see it from a child's view point. I talk about going in for tests, meeting the doctors, being wheeled into surgery on a bed. When they wake up they are tired and a little sore and nurses, who are also from the Magic Forest, take care of the patient. They take their temperature, blood pressure and bring them medicine. They receive visitors, who are the children of the Magic Forest, and soon the room fills with lovely flowers. Everyone helps to care for the patient once they are brought home.

Sometimes the children participate in a rodeo. In this scenario they learn how to be good winners and, good losers and learn how to be happy for someone else. When it is an election year, elections are held in the Magic Forest. Each participant discusses what they will change and the children get to discuss and vote on who they think is the best candidate. To keep things from getting to intense there is always someone playing a prank in the story.

It's best to print in a very plain font, use lots of pictures and color. Imagine yourself in elementary school and use words that kids can read on their own. Bold each child's name as they `speak' in the story. Put in updated photos of the children and label them with their names and ages. For cousins that live far away this may be the only way that you get to see each other. Refer to the story as experiences come up in the family. Remind them how the characters in the Magic Forest responded.

There is more then one way to teach children the things they need to know. Stories are a great way for children to learn. The writing of the story can be passed around from year to year, so make sure that you save all the picture files for the next author. You can get great characters by searching through your children's books, pictures can come from their, favorite books, coloring books, or the internet. By trading off the obligation, everyone gets to put their own imagination into the story. Be consistent when using the characters, it will make it easier to follow from year to year. Print pages on different colors of paper. Ask for others input if you get stumped about what to use for a plot. World events are a great thing to create your own story around. Children discuss these things between themselves at school, so give your child good information to take the fear out of the conversation.

Using a holiday to write your family story makes certain that it is written every year about the same time and soon the kids will be waiting by the mailbox. Writing an annual story is a great way to use your imagination and prepare kids for new experiences. Make a great cover for your book and don't forget to sign your work!

About the author: I am the artist behind Style In Stone jewelry at I also enjoy writing and am the author and publisher of our annual family Easter story. I love doing this because it allows me to help parents teach their children in a different way, through stories which include their cousins and family. I have a blog on alternative healing to encourage others to seek out a way to help themselves have emotionally, spiritually and physically happy lives. Visit my blog at Watch for my forthcoming book on ways to tweak your health.

1 comment:

Susan W. said...

Finishing up my entries for BYB...thought I would say hi while I was here :-) Have a great weekend!