Props ~ use of props, such as photos, train tickets, icecream wrappers, pebbles, leaves and so on help to anchor recall. You can look at them, feel them, smell them, stick them in a scrapbook and use them as sensory reminders of where you were and what happened.
Focus ~ try and make a mental note of things that your child finds the most interesting on any trip, rather than what you as parents find most interesting. For example, if the train is the most interesting part of a trip for your son, notice anything that he says about the train e.g. “it’s noisy!” When you are recounting the experience together, you can look at the photo you have taken of the train and say “Oh look. We went on that train. Do you remember how noisy it was?” These might sound like little things, but if you do them regularly, making them part of everyday experience, they will support a child’s narrative development. Remember that you may well be doing more of the telling than your child. Remember to balance comments with questions too: it is best to use more comments and less questions. When you do ask questions, try to think of ones that you know your child will be able to answer. If he doesn’t immediately answer a question, give him a little time and then try ‘sentence completion’. For example, you could say “We went on the train to… “, he can then add “Paris!” Your child will get a sense of accomplishment and involvement by completing the sentence and contributing to the story.
Share books ~ share picture books that your child likes, around characters and subjects that they find interesting. Get your child involved in the storytelling by asking them easy questions and using ‘sentence completion’. For example, you could say “Oh look. He turned into a… ” and the child gets to complete the sentence.
‘Model’ narrative ~ modelling is when you provide the stories and your child can listen, join in and learn. You can comment and embellish on play as it happens. Stories can be very short! For example, during play you could say “Oooh, he’s going to fall off! Uh oh. He’s fallen off”. Or you can create longer stories about toys. Children love stories about everyday experiences, like cooking and going to the park, as well as ones about monsters and other fantastic tales.