More than ever our students are embracing a world that requires competent oral communication skills. Educators and parents of young children are often aware of these skills while watching and interacting with children as they talk, listen to stories and play. MindWing's methodology and hands-on modeling tools, specifically Braidy the StoryBraid®, facilitate talk (personal narratives), listening comprehension (listening to the fictional narratives of childrens’ literature) and play.
“Difficulties with the comprehension of narrative discourse limit the acquisition of literacy skills.” (Dickinson, D. & Smith, M. (1994), from Long-Term Effects of Preschool Teacher’s Book-Readings on Low-Income Children’s Vocabulary and Story Comprehension. Reading Research Quarterly, 29(2), 104-122.) The failure to acquire literacy skills can negatively impact those students social, academic and vocational success, limiting their full participation in society as adults. Building a Better Workforce, a conference held in the MassMutual Room of the Basketball Hall of Fame in November, attracted 200 participants from the Western Massachusetts business, education and public policy communities and addressed the link between educational attainment—from pre-kindergarten through college and adult education—and a healthy economy. Nobel Laureate Dr. James Heckman, from the Center of Economic Research at the University of Chicago, spoke to attendees about the importance of investing in early education. Dr. Heckman cited a long-running study indicating that children who spent 2½ hours a day in pre-school programs and whose families received home visits realized lifelong benefits. These participants had increased IQs, were more likely to graduate high school, and experienced greater wage earning by age 40. (Taken from Cherish Every Child, Springfield, Massachusetts, Irene & George Davis Foundation)
Personal narratives are a type of talk that is vital to conversation development. Expression of personal narratives, Who, Where, What happened first is a narrative structure that is vital to the young child. Yet, many children are unable to follow and/or express this simple sequence. Adult scaffolding is necessary. Guided questions coupled with MindWing's visual, kinesthetic and tactile learning tools make a difference in the depth of the narrative scaffolding process and actually encourage children to participate! Children are invited to be the character, learn to describe the setting and ultimately sequence the actions as they provide words and body language for emotional responses. Preschool children need to progress in the area of comprehension and expression of social stories, or sequences of actions related to a topic, for purposes of self-regulation and transitioning through the day. Growth in these conversational skills is seen as both language and social-emotional milestones.
Listening Comprehension involves listening to the Fictional Narratives found children's literature. Listening to a story and looking at the pictures are activities embedded into most preschool programs. Noisy Nora, Corduroy, and Clifford are some of the characters whose antics are enjoyed by children everywhere. What about the child who does not attend to the stories, does not seem to retain the content, or has difficulty telling the story to others without scaffolding by an adult? Our three-dimensional, iconic-based narrative development tools begin at the beginning. They are grounded in oral narrative development research which is applicable to the understanding and expression of stories. Who, Where and What happened (Action Sequences) are the first level of embedded instruction. Using the child’s own words and sentence structure as a base, expanded oral discourse is modeled and scaffolded using Braidy, the StoryBraid®. Areas of focus depend upon on the needs and communication goals of the children. Oral narrative developmental data and progress monitoring tools are central to the methodology.
Who is playing what role? What will we play? Who will do what? These questions underlie play scenarios. The “stories” children are enacting involve narrative thinking. Who, Where, What happens, Why it happens, How the “actors” feel and how they will change the “actions” depends in part on their narrative competence. When children have difficulty planning play, they tend not to participate, or participate on the fringes.
What about the child who doesn’t play? Perhaps the ability to talk about possible stories to use as the base of a play scenario would facilitate the thinking and planning process necessary for play. “Oh! No! Why did you do that? Now we have to ________.” These comments often occur during play when a conflict arises and “talking” needs to be done to facilitate some changes. The characters, setting, usual actions of play were happening when, suddenly, a “problem” occurred. Since narrative development is the gradual development of a plot, the “problem” that disrupted this play scenario is similar to a problem in a fictional or personal narrative. Changes in “feelings” are the result. Using our hands-on tools, teachers and parents are able to assist children to talk about the problem, recognize the feeling change it caused, and to even discuss a plan or action to improve things! See Braidy the StoryBraid®, MindWing’s early childhood tool, collection page to learn more.