Jesus was an amazing story teller. And, although it doesn’t say specifically in scripture that he was homeschooled, I’m willing to bet that he learned a lot from listening to his parents tell stories. After all, for centuries wisdom and historical information have been passed down orally from generation to generation through the telling of stories. One doesn’t have to look far into science to see the benefits of story to the human’s ability to learn and retain information.
So, how can we harness this narrative power in our homeschools? Here are some ways to help you learn and teach as Jesus did — through story-telling.
- Use themes or subjects that are familiar to explain the unfamiliar. Jesus did this often in scripture. When speaking to a group of fishermen, he used fishing analogies. When talking to shepherds, he used sheep and shepherding stories to make his point. If you’re trying to explain a new concept to your child, try to use topics or situations that are familiar to them, and the unfamiliar concepts will seem less intimidating and become more interesting and useful.
- Tell stories using your own experiences. These are likely stories that you know best, and therefore you can tell them with greatest enthusiasm and detail. The stories my children always ask for are the ones about when mama and daddy were young.
- Use details, but use them carefully. Details are wonderful for transporting your listener to another time or place. Details can ignite someone’s imagination by describing sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and feelings. So, by all means add some great details to your story, but be judicious not to get bogged down by unimportant details that distract from your message.
- Have a clear message. One can err on either side of this point. It’s easy to get so caught up in the action or details of a story that the plot is either lost in the language, or forgotten altogether. It is also possible to have too many messages going on at the same time. A clear and concise message within a story will be remembered and hopefully put to good use.
- Repetition is your friend. Have you ever wondered why your children can sing every lyric in the theme song from their favorite movie, but struggle to remember the names of the twelve disciples? The answer is often times repetition. I can repeat a fact 20 times, but that gets boring, and it’s still tough to remember! I’m much more likely to reread my favorite book, or watch a favorite movie for the tenth time. Why? Because I love the story! A good story elicits the release of feel-good chemicals in the brain. So, repetition becomes something desirable with a good story attached to it.
Hopefully these suggestions will help you utilize the power of story-telling to enhance learning in your homeschool.