Storytelling in Emergent Literacy: Supporting Community Based Childcare Centers in Malawi

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Virginia Tech

This study investigated the use of storytelling in order to support children's emergent literacy in Malawi's resource deprived Community Based Childcare Centers (CBCCs). It focused on the professional development of four caregivers from four CBCCs following a Formative and Design Experiment model, and using qualitative methods of inquiry. The professional development on storytelling was designed following an informative two-week observation period. Following the observation, a daylong professional development was organized to train the caregivers. In the seven-week intervention period that followed the professional development, the main focus of the study was on the perceptions of the caregivers about their participation in a professional development on storytelling in CBCCs, their responses to using storytelling, and their perceptions about children's responses to using storytelling in CBCCs. Data that informed the study comprised caregivers' reflective notes in their journals, individual caregiver weekly interviews, weekly focus group discussions, and research reflective field notes that were collected over seven weeks after the professional development. Findings suggested that the four caregivers found the professional development beneficial to them all. However, out of the four caregivers, three of them and their respective children demonstrated benefit from storytelling, growth in knowledge and development of storytelling skills. The three caregivers reported becoming more connected with the children, understood them better, found storytelling to be a teaching approach, and felt that their teaching was made easier and enjoyable. The children taught by these three caregivers enjoyed their learning and even resourced stories from their communities. They too, became storytellers. In the end, the caregivers felt that they were ready to share their experiences with other caregivers in Zomba District in Malawi. These findings suggest that storytelling could be used in support of emergent literacy at a larger scale, as well as serve as springboard for pedagogical training of the caregivers culminating in the development of locally available teaching and learning resources in the Malawian CBCC.

storytelling, formative and design experiments, Career development, emergent literacy, community based childcare centers