Throughout time people have loved telling and listening to stories. I know that as a child I loved to listen to my grandparents and parents tell stories of what life was like when they were young. Stories have long been used to connect and teach people about their past. Studies also tell us that people remember things more easily if it is told in a story format. Teaching through story is a powerful, engaging tool to use in your homeschool to increase retention and interest.
"The best way to teach people is by telling a story." ~ Kenneth Blanchard
Why Teach Through Story?
Story-telling is the perfect vehicle to transmit information in a way that is easy to remember. There is a reason that moral teachers from Jesus to Confucius to Aesop taught through stories. I can still remember a story that my elementary music teacher told us to remember the difference between a whole and half rest even though it’s been thirty years since I heard it! Stories make a lasting impact!
What Subjects Can Be Taught Through Story?
In short, the answer is all of them! I’ve used stories to teach everything from music and art appreciation to place value in math. Of course some subjects naturally lend themselves to a narrative form such as history and character education, but math and science can be taught this way as well.
When to Use Stories to Teach?
I prefer using stories as much as possible in our homeschool, but I find them most effective when my children are struggling. When my oldest hit long division, she absolutely could not remember the steps to work the problems, so I made up a silly story about a firefighter trying to save people from a building. After I told her the story, everything just clicked and she could remember how to do long division from that day. It was awesome to watch the power of story at work after spending three days teaching it the traditional way with no progress.
How to Use Stories to Teach?
Look for curriculum that uses stories. Curriculum providers know what helps kids learn and there are curriculum out there to teach any topic or subject you wish using stories and books. On my own personal shelves I have various curricula that teach grammar, math, science, history, art, and music through stories.
Ask a librarian. Believe it or not there are entire series of nonfiction books that teach parts of speech, punctuation, literary terms, and math concepts through stories. Most of these can be found at your local library so ask around or do some internet searching for titles. And, of course, there is an abundance of historical fiction.
Make it up. When all else fails and you can’t find exactly what you are looking for, then use your own imagination. Like my firefighter long division example above, you don’t have to be an award winning author to pull a story out of thin air, just a desperate homeschool parent!
While it seems like a simple concept, the power of a story should not be discarded. I’ve seen in our own homeschool the amazing results of teaching as much as possible with stories, not to mention pulling character lessons out of books we are already reading. When all else fails, you might just find that a story is the perfect answer.
About the Author
Chelli has been homeschooling for seven years and married for thirteen. She has three children Grace (5th grade), Sophia (2nd grade), and Levi (5 years old).
When she's not educating or blogging at The Planted Trees, you can generally find her with her nose in a book, cooking up something yummy in the kitchen, or if she's really lucky, you can't find her at all because she's traveling with friends and family.