Storytelling, Murder and what that has to do with Homeschooling

Above is a photo I took in the upstairs of the log house at the William Harris Homestead.  Oh, what those walls could tell us if they could talk!

There is nothing I love more than old, family stories.  I have written a few of my grandmother’s stories for the Barrow Journal, and recently I wrote a story about the Harris Family, whom I am related to through marriage.

My Great Aunt Jesse Harris wrote down a story about her husband’s great uncle, who committed murder in 1841 very near where I live today.  It was a heinous act that makes a fascinating story all these years later, and if you’d like to read it, click here.

But what does this have to do with homeschooling?  For that matter, what do stories have to do with homeschooling?  Everything, I think!

The word “story” is such a buzz word for me.  Within that one word, I think about life, lessons, wisdom, writing, creativity, entertainment, history, and the story that is mine ~ my life as it unfolds.

In The Wonder of Boys, Michael Gurian writes, “Kids of all ages, adults too, often learn more from listening to the tale and its in-depth interpretation than they do from a lecture by a parent, mentor, or educator.  Stories ‘speak to their souls’ in a way nothing else can.”

I want to teach my children where they came from by sharing with them the stories their great-parents passed down to me.   They’re not going to learn only the names of their ancestors, but they’re going to hear these stories and anything else I can remember about my grandmothers and other family members.

I want to teach them about their local history as well as their world history by sharing with them, for example, tales from the Harris Homestead, or visiting locals museums and reading the local literature.

With these stories and with other stories, whether real or made up, I want to teach my children about life.  I truly believe that stories can help us make wiser decisions as we piece together the stories of our own lives.  Children may see themselves in the characters they hear about, and they can evaluate for themselves whether or not those characters made good decisions and see what the outcomes were for those characters.

I want to teach my boys the value in oral storytelling and how it has informed many different cultures and religions about their own identity.  As we do this, we will be helping them create their own identities.

I had the privilege of knowing the late J.J. Reneaux, an award-winning storyteller and musician.  In the short time that I knew her, she taught me much about the value of stories, and because of her urging, I went to the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, TN.  It’s one of my goals to take my boys one year when they are old enough to appreciate it.

Last but not least, stories are a wonderful way to teach children the basics of reading, writing, language and even math and science!

I could go on and on about stories, but I won’t.  Please tell me what you love about stories, any resources that you might know about, or share a good story that kids might love to hear!

Meanwhile, here are some interesting links/resources that I have found relating to storytelling and teaching:

Tell Me a Story by Chase Collins ~ a book recommended by Michael Gurian in The Wonder of Boys.  I have ordered myself a copy, so I’ll be sure to write about it someday.

National Storytelling Network’s Overview ~ lists some good points on why storytelling is important

Using Stories In the teaching of Life Lessons by Hermann A. Peine, Ph.D.  (PDF format)

Stories as Teaching Tools: The Humane Society of the United States

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Note: To find more resources on how to start telling stories to your children, see my Storytelling Page.


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