What a great time to learn how to get and keep your children’s attention.
Remember the time you heard a good story? Exactly — you remember. In fact, I bet the person telling the story was animated, funny, enthusiastic and extremely engaging. I am confident in saying the story you were listening to was probably like an adventurous movie plot. The story kept you wondering what comes next.
When experiencing a good story, you are more than likely to imagine the characters, environment and setting that make you a part of the story. A well told story will captivate you to be in the present moment, only thinking of the words the storyteller is saying and creating imagines in your mind. The storyteller will have a variety of voice tones and facial expressions to keep your senses activated, and the story will have the listener experiencing an array of emotions from beginning to end.
Now that you can relate to a child’s interest in listening to a good story, you will know how to get and keep a child’s attention. Just like you, children love experiencing a good story told by an exciting storyteller. Children will thrive being a part of a story’s adventure. When you add movement that aligns with a captivating story script, children will increase their physical activity, attention and enjoyment of being active.
Allowing children to be part of the story will also increase engagement and participation, while building their imagination skills. A well-crafted story can teach children lifelong lessons with story characters as role models of being a caring and compassionate global citizen. A few lesson ideas may include staying healthy, being kind, being a good friend, anxiety, emotions, mindfulness, grit, physical activity, junk food, or the importance of improvement that comes with working hard and practicing your skills.
This time, when children might be increasing their screen time and decreasing their movement, is the perfect time to start practicing using movement stories to keep children’s attention. One way to start your storytelling adventure is to participate in a little research. Start watching a few cartoons and play a few video games with your child to begin learning what stories they enjoy listening to.
When you enter a child’s world, you receive valuable information. You will be able to start using the words, expressions, voice tones, characters, sounds, visuals and story ideas you can implement into your movement story. When teaching children, you must provide an experience so they can activate their senses. Another way to enhance a child’s experience of movement story is by using a few props, such as pictures, music, figurine, stuffed animal or sound effects.
If, and when, you get stuck in the process of keeping a child’s attention, always reflect on the moments you remember when someone told you a good story. Children, like us, enjoy a good story explained in a manner that keeps them captivated and in the present moment. Use the research you gathered when discovering a child’s interest and what they gravitate to, then place that in your story to keep them engaged to move. Remember, every age loves a good story.
Holly Metzger-Brown, M.Ed. is the youth fitness director at the York Jewish Community Center.