Children and stories are made for each other. Stories help children internalise values and morals. It makes them think, helps them understand concepts, and improves their oral fluency.
By Tharani Rathnam
Nowadays, we spend most of our free time glued to the screens of mobile phones, tablets or other such gadgets. It appears as though we are depending on gadgets to not only make our lives comfortable but also fulfill our emotional needs.
However, despite advancements in technology, gadgets remain devoid of the ‘human touch’. Therefore, a conversation with our loved ones is always special and makes us feel good. And has it ever struck you that our conversations with others are nothing but a collage of stories! The same holds true about children as well. They too love to converse, hear a story or make one and tell it to others.
Stories play a crucial role in developing children’s overall personality. And in today’s technology-driven times, when most children are glued to gadgets, stories and storytelling can help both parents and children. While storytelling can help parents connect with children, listening to stories can help children shun gadgets and, thus, escape its numerous adverse effects.
“Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today” – Robert McKee, a creative writing instructor.
To add to Robert McKee’s quote, it can be said that telling stories is also the best way of reaching out to children and making them view the mundane in a different way. Let’s look at some of the benefits of stories for children.
Sense of comfort and wellbeing: A bedtime story is always a good way for parents to bond with children. Listening to a bedtime story from a parent calms down a child by reducing his anxieties and provides him with a sense of comfort. So, even if you cannot spend quality time with your child during the day, a bedtime story can make up for it.
Aids literacy: Listening to stories helps children develop their sense of imagination, which is vital for their future development. By listening to stories, a toddler gets to hear lot of new words. Repeating these words will help widen her vocabulary. So, sit with your child and read books with a lot of pictures. Learning by listening to a story is more effective than trying to learn through apps and videos.
Instils good behaviours and manners: What parents cannot accomplish through commands and can be achieved by storytelling. The morals that stories teach remains etched in children’s memory and moulds their behaviour and thinking, as they grow up.
Now that we realize the power of telling stories to children, let’s also understand that it need not always be a ‘once upon a time’ story all the time. Anything that you want to tell your child and want him to listen with undivided attention can become a story and anytime can be a story time. Sounds interesting right? Here are two ways to help you become a storyteller.
Choose a story book that has lot of big pictures. It is always a good idea to pick a book that the child has chosen. Look at the pictures and simultaneously read out to your child. Fix a time for this activity and stick to the routine every day. A bedtime story creates a special bond between parent and child. If bedtime doesn’t work, choose any other time when you and your child are comfortable and relaxed, with less distractions in the form of TV or gadgets.
Discover what interests your child the most. It could be a toy car, kitchen playset, a cartoon character, eating chocolates, travelling by train or something else. You can start weaving a story around his interest by adding details to it. Make it a short story for the first time and gradually include more details based on his likes.
A mother’s voice works wonders for a child and listening to stories from mother can weave a special bond between both of them.