The Storypark blog shares diverse opinions from educators and parents all over the world. Today our guest blog is from the author of ‘Uplifting Early Childhood‘. What are your thoughts? Share them below in the comments, we’d love to hear from you!
Why do some mat times fail and others succeed?
Do you think that some teachers just have the X-factor when it comes to facilitating engaging, captivating, and imaginative mat/group times or do you think this particular skill is something that can be acquired over time and with appropriate guidance?
I think the latter….absolutely.
But it takes commitment. Being an engaging storyteller, or a mesmerizing maestro takes guts, confidence, and a willingness to relinquish all self-control or thoughts of awkwardness. Only the best mat/group time takers are the ones that are willing to make themselves look ridiculous in front of adults and awe-inspiring to children.
It isn’t something that takes natural talent – at least I don’t think it does. What it does take is charisma, energy and a willingness to do whatever it takes to capture your audience’s attention (which is amplified by the fact that your audience is a bunch of two to six year olds) – which includes flopping around the floor like a trout being hooked onto a boat if you have to!
I have seen many a teacher attempt and become disheartened because they have failed to engage all of the children or a couple of strong-willed children might have been causing a distraction during their mat/group time. Don’t feel disheartened. There are two things I think are important to keep in mind when preparing for and delivering a worthwhile mat/group time…
1) Not all children NEED or WANT to sit on the mat/floor and be told a story, or sung a song to, or learn about the life cycle of a centipede – so don’t force them. Trust me, if you offer the opportunity for the children disinterested in mat times to move off and play with something or in an area they find engaging, that’s 70% of the battle won!
2) We aren’t born great storytellers or mat/group time givers. It takes practice and it also takes guidance and mentoring just like any other aspect of our professional practice. So if you have someone in your centre that seems to have that X-factor, tap into their knowledge and expertise. There’s nothing to be ashamed of, in fact I think everyone will appreciate it if you did try to improve your story weaving ability if you have identified it as a bit of a gap.
Oh I forgot one more important aspect…
Include the children! Include the other teachers! Engaging in a mat/group time isn’t just you being engaged in whatever story you are sharing, but your children and colleagues engaging in whatever story you are inviting them to be a part of.
Mat/group times CAN be amazing and valuable, and stories can be magical – so bring the magic.
Another thought provoking post from“UpliftingEarly Childhood”, a page that discusses the importance of uplifting and investing in early childhood.