Several traditions across the world have some form of story-telling that it has relied upon to pass down morals to the younger generations. A very good example of this is the classic case of Africans who use traditional folktales that bothered around animals to teach children basic morals like honesty and hard work. Has it been effective? Of course, and this is because, naturally, humans love storytelling and story listening.
Human beings are natural storytellers and story listeners. All through human history to date we learn that stories entertain us, but not just that they also give and teach us the “rules” about what is expected of us in the family and society.
Stories are integral to our lives, we truly cannot separate our lives and history from them. Stories have great power to change or influence how we think or how we react.
They are an innate part of how we learn and have obvious benefits to trainers or educators who are trying to impact what and how we learn. Parents can use it to teach kids vital safety rules at home, in school, etc.
This article will show parents the power of stories, and how they can use it to develop safety training for their kids. I have also included examples as well as suggestions for parents on where to find stories, what type of stories to pay attention to, and how to use them to improve trampoline safety.
Before writing this article I spent quality time studying theories of how we learn, effective training models that were used teaching and training kids.
For any training to work it must be interesting and effective. I was searching for an effective way to teach and train kids the already readily available trampoline safety tips. I saw that we have more than enough safety tips, enough to reduce or even eliminate trampoline accidents but accidents seem to still happen at an uncomfortable rate.
I found that children love stories, our ancient fathers used stories effectively and our schools and training centers use stories for both children and adults alike. So I thought, why not use the same method to teach kids how to use trampoline safely?
See the words of Nette Simmons, a public speaker, celebrated author and trainer as he summarises this concept so perfectly:
“If you wish to influence an individual or a group to embrace a particular value in their daily lives, tell them a compelling story”.
This general principle also applies to trampoline safety training because story-telling is most-suited for teaching and learning since it is easier to remember a story than the lesson.
For instance, if you tell a kid of a near miss, an accident that nearly happened on a trampoline because of non-adherence to one of the trampoline safety rules, that kid won’t forget the story and will try to adhere to that particular rule in order to avoid a similar case. Such is the power of story-telling in training.
Why Should You Adopt Storytelling When Training Kids on Trampoline Safety?
‘Story’ is a way of knowing and remembering information—a shape or pattern into which information can be arranged. It serves a very basic purpose; it restructures experiences for the purpose of ‘saving’ them. And it is an ancient, perhaps natural order of the mind… By imposing the structure of a story onto some circumstance or happening, greater coherence and sensibility are achieved within the event itself, and otherwise isolated and disconnected scraps are bound up into something whole and meaningful – Livo and Rietz
It has been proven that stories help learners connect emotionally to content and when that happens, they can be used to drive attitudinal changes.
Stories have a way of breaking down complex ideas into simpler ones.
It can be difficult to relate to abstract concepts, but with a story, they become more relatable.
Stories generally highlight consequences and children begin to appreciate that their failure to adhere to any safety principle can have detrimental consequences.
The essence of learning is remembering. Stories make it easier to remember what is learned.
Storytelling is a natural way of recounting the experience, a practical solution to a fundamental problem in life, creating reasonable order out of the experience
Stories engage both the thinking and feeling sides of our brain, we can place ourselves in the story and think about what we might have done in the same circumstances, and at the same time feel the anxiety caused by the problem.
As you engage the tool of Storytelling to teach and train your kids on safety measures you can elicit the fear, confusion, or heightened awareness common to disaster stories without ever placing the kids in danger. This is an important position to get to because it increases the likelihood the kids will remember both the story and the safety lessons it taught.
Storytelling goes a long way to helping us learn because stories are easy to remember. Organizational psychologist Peg Neuhauser found that learning which stems from a well-told story is remembered more accurately, and for far longer than learning derived from facts and figures. Similarly, psychologist Jerome Bruner’s research suggests that facts are 20 times more likely to be remembered if they’re part of a story.
Kendall Haven, the author of Story Proof and Story Smart, has this to say:
“Your goal in every communication is to influence your target audience (change their current attitudes, belief, knowledge, and behavior). Information alone rarely changes any of these. Research confirms that well-designed stories are the most effective vehicle for exerting influence“
Types of Stories You Can Use
All the types of stories mentioned here are useful and effective as long as the underlying safety messages are well captured.
• Hero Stories – These are stories that talk about people who stood out. They are about people who played by the rules, obeyed all the instructions given, helped others do the same and saved them from trouble, crisis or accident.
These stories refer to or emphasis the admirable traits of the hero. Such traits like obedience, loyalty, hardwood, dependability,
They will almost always refer to traits that are admired by the culture, such as hard work, dependability, toughness, courage, creativity under duress, etc. The hero embodies these qualities, and
• Villain Stories – These stories are also about the values and norms of the culture, but view them from the “shadow side,” as Joseph Campbell would describe it. The villain, rather than embodying the valued traits of the culture, has turned away from them, and is, therefore, one to be scorned, feared, or punished. The norms, however, remain the same. The villain is not courageous, hard-working, kind, etc. These stories reveal just as much about the values and expectations of the culture as the hero stories do, just from the opposite angle.
• Adventure or Disaster Stories – These stories are about events, and may have many characters included, all who react to the event. The stories told about the events surrounding the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, are examples. Stories of this nature can be heart-breaking or entertaining (adventures are thrilling by nature), but they can also serve to highlight dangers that are intrinsic to the work environment. These types of stories are very good teaching stories because they inform listeners about what could go wrong, and they give them guidance by describing what others have done when this happens.
• The Fool Stories – These may be the most valuable training stories you can find. They are about what happens when someone ignores warnings, forgets their training, becomes careless or complacent, and perhaps does something unsafely. When you first hear them they will take the form “I knew a guy once who…” If the storytellers come to trust you, however, the stories will begin “Let me tell you what happened to me one day.” These are warning stories more than anything because if the protagonist suffers a serious injury or is killed, they become a disaster story. In these stories, the protagonist survives the event and learns a valuable lesson. The storytellers often tell these stories with humor or with a lot of visible emotion, and admit that they were just plain lucky “this time.” They will always acknowledge that they learned a powerful lesson from the experience and that others could save themselves the pain and embarrassment they felt if they could just learn from the story. For a trainer, these stories are priceless!
Here is How You Can Use the Storytelling Approach for Training Kids in Trampoline Safety
Get their attention. If you miss it here all is lost.
Let them know the value and importance of safety and what you’re trying to do for them.
Set the context which is trampoline safety and make sure that the children can relate to this.
Connect the children meaningfully to the content by explaining to them why safety is very necessary
Put in a call to action by asking them to always ensure that they are safety conscious whenever they are on the trampoline
Pique their interest by explaining to them the amazing things that can be done in a trampoline.
Drive higher retention by using stories and examples to better explain your points.
The stories can be any kind just make sure it carries the lessons you want them to imbibe.
Some Safety Tips to Teach Children
Avoidance of Overcrowding
Some of the accidents that occur at the trampoline can be attributed to overcrowding. Jumpers may be forced to jump very close to the edge. Such edge jumping can cause a bad landing or a possible landing off the trampoline. The children need to understand that an overcrowded trampoline is not good for them. Teach and enforce scheduling on the trampoline. You can drive home this lesson by telling stories or sharing scenarios you have seen before just so the kids have an anchor to the lesson. Something to remind them of the lesson.
Teach the kids to only attempt feats and exercises that they are conversant with. Teach them to not attempt a jump just because everyone is doing so. As always, drive the lesson home with a suitable lesson. Not necessarily one bordering on a trampoline. Any lesson that teaches the ills of undue influence should serve.
Teach the kids trampoline safety devices and how to use them effectively
The children need to understand the importance of protection devices and general trampoline safety devices. Trampoline anchor kit, SureStep trampoline ladder, trampoline safety skirt, nets, and pads are some of the safety devices you can familiarize the kids with.
Teach the children for adult supervision on the trampoline
No matter how experienced they may feel that they’ve gotten, educate them on the need for adult supervision. Supervision comes in handy for curbing children excesses, giving routine directions and timely intervention in the case of an emergency. As a supervisor, it is also important that you teach the children that flips and somersaults are for professional jumpers and not recreational jumpers like them.
Additionally, the children shouldn’t jump on trampolines if:
It is in bad shape.
It is not on level ground.
The trampoline is in a hazardous environment.
Click to get more trampoline safety tips
If we get all our kids and family members to master trampoline safety it won’t be long trampoline accidents will be eliminated.
Terkura Vincent is a Trampoline Safety Advocate and CEO of Casdale Trampoline Safety Centre. Our passion is to see families enjoy trampoline with utmost safety. You can help us do this by sharing the articles with other families that use trampoline.
You can reach Kevin at firstname.lastname@example.org