Life is made up of stories, our own personal story and the story of the world around us. During these uncertain times a great way to help children process their questions and big emotions is to create a space where they can be a storyteller.
In my Steiner inspired family day care I tell a new story every week themed around the season or a subject of interest that has emerged through the children’s play. I set a simple scene with silks and nature objects and tell the story using felted puppets.
After the children are familiar with the story I invite them to add to it or perform it themselves. That is where the real magic happens. When the children become engaged in the story and make it their own, wonderful new plot twists and characters emerge that are relevant to the children’s own lives and questions. This opens up conversations and creates a space of sharing where I can learn more about the children’s feelings and offer solutions in a gentle, authentic way.
With the Covid 19 crisis we’ve been self isolating and like so many others we’ve experienced many changes to our daily lives, like the loss of going to the park and meeting friends. This has created a lot of questions for my four year old son. I like to keep him informed but with so much information and worries swirling around a story offers a comforting way to think about our current circumstances, the truths woven with imagination in a way that is nourishing to the senses.
So this week I told my son this lovely story by Susan Perrow,
The Little Gnome Who Had to Stay Home
By Susan Perrow – March 2020
Little gnome was confused.
Why did he have to stay home?
Didn’t everyone know how little gnomes love to roam!
He couldn’t go to gnome school, he couldn’t play with his friends in the forest, and his friends couldn’t visit him.
Little gnome was stuck in his tree-root home.
At least he could look out his window through the rocks and the tree roots. He was surprised that there was so much to see. Little ants were scurrying by, brightly coloured beetles were climbing up and down the fallen leaves and floppy eared rabbits were hopping in and out their burrows.
But even with all these things to watch, little gnome was growing impatient. Why did he have to keep on staying home? It didn’t make sense to him why he could not roam.
Then Mother Tree whispered to him:
‘Things are not as they used to be – but trust me – soon you will be free – trust me, trust me.’
Little gnome knew in his heart that he could always trust Mother Tree.
Mother Tree carried the wisdom of the whole forest!
Mother Tree knew all about everything. The birds and the wind were her friends and messengers. They visited her every day sharing the news of the big wide world.
Little gnome could hear when the birds came by. He could hear them singing high up in the branches of Mother Tree.
Little gnome could see when the wind was visiting. He could see the branches swaying this way and that. He sometimes had to close his window to keep out the leaves and dust stirred up by this busy friend!
Everyday Mother Tree continued to whisper to him:
‘Things are not as they used to be – but trust me – soon you will be free – trust me, trust me.”
After I told the story I invited my son to interact with the puppets and I asked him what little gnome felt like. He said little gnome missed his friends at the park. Then my son created a new story in which little gnome at last is able to leave his home and to meet all the forest friends. While it still may be some time until my son’s story becomes a reality, it seemed cathartic and a joyful experience to act out his wish in storyland.
Raewyn is a mother of two, a breastfeeding advocate, homebirth enthusiast and Steiner educator who has Heartsong Family Daycare with Ignite Minds, In Melbourne, Australia.
Facebook: Raewyn Bates