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The power of storytelling: Insights from EarlyBrain's Project Experts

For International Day of Families, EarlyBrain explores how storytelling can empower families to promote the development of their children.

In a world filled with data and information, storytelling remains a timeless and potent tool for communication and learning. To mark International Day of Families on 15 May, the EarlyBrain project sat down with two of their project partners, Irene Bertana and Loles Navarro Pérez to delve deeper into the significance of storytelling in Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) and its role in empowering parents and families to promote the development of their children. 

What is storytelling, and why is it relevant in ECI? 

"Storytelling is the art of presenting narratives," explains Irene Bertana – EASPD’s expert in ECI. "It's about crafting sequences of events with characters, plot, conflict, and resolution to entertain, educate, and connect with audiences." In ECI, storytelling plays an important role in addressing developmental needs across various domains, including language, social skills, emotional regulation, and cognition. Storytelling immerses children in rich narratives, becoming a vehicle for holistic development, nurturing essential skills and fostering emotional connections. 

Supporting Children with Developmental Issues: The Role of Storytelling 

Experts emphasise the transformative impact of storytelling in supporting families and caregivers of children facing developmental challenges. "Storytelling enhances empathy, communication, and coping skills," notes Irene. Through stories, caregivers can glean important insights and strategies, creating a supportive ecosystem for children with developmental disabilities. Moreover, storytelling serves as a powerful advocacy tool, reducing stigma and promoting inclusivity within communities. 

How can it help families, relatives, and caregivers to better support children with developmental disabilities? 

"Storytelling is instrumental in helping families and caregivers support children facing developmental challenges," emphasises Irene. "It can enhance empathy, communication, and coping skills, creating a supportive network for the children and their caregivers." Storytelling helps learning by promoting effective coping strategies and promoting positive communication. With it, families and caregivers can navigate developmental challenges with confidence, fostering inclusive and accepting environments for children with diverse needs. 

What is the practical and professional relevance of storytelling for engaging with children and supporting families of children with developmental disabilities? 

"The main objective of the EarlyBrain  project is to empower families to cope with the different stages of development and their potential complications," highlights Loles Navarro Pérez, IRENEA’s expert in ECI. "Through the stories narrated, their corresponding theory to understand each situation, and the material adapted to each of them, it will be possible to address potential developmental alterations between 0 and 6 years of age in a more assertive manner, involving families and professionals in this entire process." Storytelling not only engages children but also provides a platform for families and professionals to navigate developmental challenges collaboratively, fostering a supportive environment for children with developmental disabilities. 

 

 

Promoting Knowledge and Skills Through Storytelling 

The conversation extends to the specific knowledge and skills that storytelling can promote in children's development. "Stories create spaces for quality attention and care," remarks Loles. By transmitting information about development and strategies through narratives, families gain a deeper understanding of their children's characteristics, strengths, and weaknesses. Through practical examples embedded in stories, children develop essential skills such as communication, enthusiasm for learning, and literacy. 

The EarlyBrain Project: Pioneering Integration into Everyday Life  

At the heart of the discussion lies the EarlyBrain project, which aims to innovate family-centred Early Childhood Intervention through storytelling. "Our aim is to empower families and professionals by providing practical, dynamic content that reflects everyday situations," explains Loles . Through a comprehensive Toolkit comprising stories, didactic guides, and materials, the EarlyBrain project seeks to equip families with the tools and strategies necessary to navigate developmental challenges confidently. 

How will the EarlyBrain project contribute to the integration of these practices? 

"It is important to consider that in imitation learning or vicarious learning, the representation of both images and gestures helps to consolidate behaviours that have difficulties being acquired," explains Loles. "In the various stages of childhood development, particularly in the early years, a greater number of behaviours are acquired through these types of learning. This is why providing examples and specific situations makes learning meaningful, as the main character of each story will represent a problem like what can be observed in reality." Through practical and dynamic content, the EarlyBrain project aims to facilitate the integration of storytelling practices into everyday life, empowering families and professionals to support children's development effectively. 

How will the EarlyBrain project contribute to generalising these practices? 

"This project aims to develop practical and dynamic contents that reflect everyday situations graphically," notes Loles. "Additionally, the ToolKit, composed of stories, didactic guides, and materials, is aimed at training family members in order to empower them and provide support strategies that facilitate the management of situations described in the stories." The EarlyBrain project provides accessible resources and fosters collaboration between families and professionals. It endeavours to generalise storytelling practice by promoting positive outcomes for children's development across diverse contexts. 

As our conversation draws to a close, it's clear that storytelling is more than a form of entertainment —it's a catalyst for change, empowerment, and holistic development. With the EarlyBrain project, the transformative potential of storytelling in ECI is evident. 

EarlyBrain's stories are coming up soon. To find out more about the EarlyBrain project, click here.