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Dear Rudolf: What to Do When the Story is Finished?
Some principles, some ideas, for kids and adults alike
Angela from Scotland emailed me an excellent question.
I enjoy visiting schools to tell stories. The thing I always struggle most with is the ending. I always feel I should do some follow-up discussion - perhaps that is the primary teacher in me!!
Please can you give me some suggestions about how you finish a story?
Great question; thanks, Angela!
Some of my thoughts
When you tell a longer story, the children are immersed in the story. When you ask reflective questions about the story, you ask them to step out of it and observe from the outside.
(1) I prefer to let them come out of the story at their own pace.
Storytelling is working with the world of images and imagination. Discussing the story involves another (more rational and analytic) part of the brain.
(2) I prefer to keep them in the world of images and imagination for as long as possible.
The story might be finished, but all children are still processing it. Especially introverts need some more time.
(3) I prefer to let them process the story at their own speed.
So, what do I do?
After taking the time to bow and receive applause, I answer spontaneous questions if there are any.
Sometimes, I ask questions about the story's imagery: how did your princess look?
Sometimes, I connect the images in the story to their now.
For example, I tell a story about a turtle who ends up with a shell looking like a jigsaw puzzle. I ask the children if they have seen a turtle with a shell like that.
I love it when it is possible to visit the children at the end of the day in their classroom. I find the conversation much more meaningful when a little time has passed.
Mostly, I see myself as someone who sows a story. It’s usually best to leave the ground alone and trust the story to do its work.
All of this applies to adults, too.
Feel free to comment with your questions, too!
P. S.: If you work in education, check out my growing collection of articles about storytelling in education.