Narrative structure. Know it, love it, live it, teach it! Narrative structure is arguably one of the most important complex language skills we need to be successful in school, relationships, and works.
It is the typical flow or schematic of a story. Most oral language and written stories follow a similar pattern. This pattern may also be called story grammar or story structure. They all mean the same thing!
Understanding this pattern is very important for our oral language abilities (ability to tell a coherent story), for our ability to understand oral and written stories, and our ability to write a good story.
Through my clinical practice, I now believe this skill might be the most important for academic success!
Children with language delays often have an incomplete mental schema of story structure. This can create many problems for learning in school, ability to participate in conversations, and ability to tell stories.
For example, if a child does not have a solid grasp on story structure, he or she has less resources to learn new vocabulary, understand deeper language themes, and/or even remember the story.
Most children do not need to be directly taught narrative structure at a young age. After hearing many stories, they naturally start to form the structure themselves.
When they reach elementary school, they are ready to directly learn it. They are primed and ready to go! All they need is words to be paired with what they already know.
However, children who have more difficulty learning language commonly do not pick up on story grammar indirectly. One red flag is their storytelling abilities. Their stories tend to be disjointed, start in the middle, or do not end properly. These children NEED extra practice.
Click here for narrative structure activities for children under 5.
For children over 5 , check out these narrative activities.
This is a bit dry if you ask me, I am going to teach you an easier way to remember and teach story grammar.
Here is my way to remember and teach story grammar while reading books:
I will ask these questions as we read a story or play house/farm/school, etc...
The key is to identify the problem with a "what" question. With my older kids, I like to "predict" what is going to happen.
Therapy techniques to teach story grammar while retelling stories:
VISUALS VISUAL VISUALS!
Good luck practicing!