Listening to the children - sharing their world and words using the Storycrafting method
"Listening to the children sharing their world and words using the Storycrafting method." The Storycrafting method grounds in four steps. It begins by describing how the writer, the adult is about to engage in listening:
“Tell a story that you want.
I will write it down just as you tell it. When the story is ready I will read it aloud.
And then if you want you can correct it or make any changes”
The teacher will be part of the child's inner world by listening to the child's own story and reading it aloud.
Storycrafting fades away the inequality between adult and child. The roles change: children "teach" adults to listen to them and their thoughts.
Children’s drawings and the photos of the situation together tell about how the new story has been created.
The method is implemented by 40 trained kindergarten and remedial class teachers and 20 social workers. About 200 children were storycrafted during the wars 2006 and 2007 in Lebanon and it is ongoing in mental health programs.
Change the children's position in the services towards active player in daily activities in cooperation with other children and caregivers.
By using the storycrafting method in the services, NISCVT promotes the right of the child to express his or her own views (CRC, Article 12).
HOW THE OBJECTIVES WERE ACHIEVED
Children’s right to be heard and their active position as individuals and as a group has been taken into account. NGO staff has the readiness to strorycraft the children and alleviate the anxiety and fears during war.
While the harsh situations are stressing, the Storycrafting lessons give children possibilities to use their fantasy and express deep positive emotion by telling stories and playing. These stories give hope even for the adults and for their godparents supporting them far away in Finland and other countries.
Storycrafting can also arouse children’s curiosity for learning to read and write, e.g. when they can use their own stories as ‘ABC Books’.
The children feel more secure and happy in their lives.
In cultural tradition, in educational and mental health contexts the adult has the leading role. Children seldom have opportunity to speak out, what they have in their minds.
Now is the way to support children during disasters and give to them the opportunity to be heard in the way the children are ready for. For a moment the leading role is given to the children to use the language in their own way. Also children with disabilities benefit from storycrafting.
Documenting the children´s stories means preserving the childhood history e.g.:
The correspondence project - children’s stories sent between Palestinian and Finnish children: Qissah Wa Tawassul Storybridge Kotka Beirut (DVD 2002, ed. Riihelä & Filminova).
Utters of Shutters – ebook (2014), children’s own stories in Arabic, collected by NGO staff, translated into English, children’s drawings to their stories and photos of Storycrafting situations. (http://www.intoebooks.com/book/utters_of_shutters/)
Several stories told by Palestinian children escaped from Syria and living in refugee camps, collected by kindergarten teachers.
All these documents show intensity, joy and trust in the cooperation between children and adults in childcare.
The adults need time to internalize the clue of the method; listen to the child, writing down without any own intervention and reading aloud the child’s story, accepting that the child has the copyright to the story.
It is not easy to find time for listening to children. In KGs and remedial classes the daily routine is hectic in overcrowded classrooms. Another challenge concerns the translations. The original story must be written down verbatim. The own language of the child is difficult to translate and distribute to the sponsors or interested audience.
Some glimpses to the amazing world of children can we learn through storycrafted material. The child can be seen as an active person handling his/her life events in a creative way. E.g. once KG-teacher noticed that the child is not a slow learner but currently suffering from a difficult condition in the family.
The stories are vivid material to the sponsors, who enjoy their role, and learn about the importance of development cooperation.
While the storycrafting activity is integrated in the daily work of NGO in educational and children's mental health care, it needs a contact person and a translator. Ms Hanan Dabdoub, a social worker in the Family Guidance Center Beirut, is the contact person for storycrafting activities of NISCVT.
Children have their own folkloric archive, over 6000 stories, collected during 20 years from the Nordic Scandinavian countries – and some from Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.