Telling stories to our children is massively important.
Yet sadly, there is some evidence that it is declining as a shared experience.
Are you telling stories with your children?
There are so many reasons why this is a good idea:
- it is an intensely personal time for a parent and child to share and bond. In future years when they’ve grown up, both you and they will relish these memories;
- there is now irrefutable evidence that children who have been the recipients of regular parental story-telling tend to do better in later schooling due to the stories having helped develop their imaginations and their ability topicture events in their mind;
- there is some evidence too that story-telling helps children to become more rounded and socially aware individuals. It may also help them to develop their empathy skills;
- once you move from story-telling to shared reading, it can massively assist children to expand their vocabularies and to learn to read faster and more ably;
- some stories are vastly important in helping to preserve and pass on our unique cultural values and histories;
- most stories for children contain a moral dimension. This can be hugely beneficial in assisting kids to build a more profound understanding of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’.
Why aren’t some people telling stories to their children anymore?
There is no single answer to this one but some inhibitors are clear:
- Some are leaving children to obtain their stories and do their reading almost exclusively based around TV programmes and the internet. While these have an important part to play, they are no substitute for the human contact component of conventional memory or book-based stories;
- Many of us are leading increasingly complicated and demanding lives. Finding quality time for our children is becoming more challenging by the day;
- Our grandparents would not have doubted for one second the importance of stories for younger children. For some reason, that awareness has been diluted and some today do not appreciate the critical importance of this activity.
What can be done about it?
All of us have a part to play.
As day-care providers, we will always ensure that storytelling is a part of our activity schedule. However, valuable as that is, it cannot be a substitute for similar time with a parent.
So, if you’re not currently doing so, why not try:
- making sure your children always get at least a bedtime story. Stories during the day, if work permits, would also be great;
- if you can’t manage one every night, try to make sure your children get a story every other night;
- if you have a partner, try to ensure you take turns. Your kids will appreciate it;
- encourage them to sometimes tell you a story too. Don’t forget, whatever else, pretend you’re enthralled!
Our children deserve their stories. Let’s make sure they continue to get them