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Purim is one of my favorite holidays to introduce to preschoolers. One of the highlights of my school year is telling and retelling the Purim story. If you ask your children how often we repeated this activity, they will tell you “over and over and over again!” There are many reasons I tell stories, especially wonderfully rich ones, like the story of Queen Esther and Mordechai, repeatedly. First of all, it contains wonderful lessons of integrity, perseverance and the triumph of good over evil.

Secondly, it is empowering for young children to hear the true meaning of bravery. Children are socialized to think being frightened is a sign of weakness and an emotion that adults do not experience. Here, we define being brave as “being scared to do something, but doing it anyway.” Queen Esther was not perfect…she hid her faith from her husband and was hesitant to speak up to save her people. In the face of great personal risk however, she found the courage to face her fears and ultimately became a trailblazer and a heroine.

Lastly, story retelling - the process by which a child listens to or reads a story and then summarizes, or "retells," the story in his or her own words - is an effective way to improve children's reading comprehension. For young children to develop emerging reading skills, this exercise can be extremely helpful. Studies on story recall have found that extended use of the technique of story retelling leads to large improvements in story comprehension, making inferences, and understanding of story structure. Rather than having children answer specific questions about story details, story retelling requires children to focus on the bigger picture of the story and therefore allows the teacher to see how well a child understands the story as a whole. By having children tell the story in their own words, we, as teachers and parents, can identify children's strengths, and specific areas of difficulty that arise for individual kids.

While a child is retelling a story, we can help by asking open-ended questions when the child pauses or seems confused. Questions such as "what happens next?" and other general content questions can help the child without influencing how they respond. The goal should be to encourage our kids to think critically about the story and to improve their comprehension and vocabulary by having them articulate their thoughts. As they become more comfortable with retelling stories, their language and listening skills will improve.

Save the Dates: March 8 5:45pm 2’s and 3’s Shabbat and Dinner
March 17 11:00am-1:00pm Purim Carnival & Spiel
March 22 9:15am Purim Parade- Parents Invited

Chag Purim,
Hillary Posner, Director of Early Childhood  

Check our Calendar for all Early Childhood Learning Center events!