“Mom, can you tell me a story tonight?”
It’s the familiar question I’m asked almost on a nightly basis, and I don’t mind one bit. Storytelling has always been a big part of our life since having children. It started with our simple weekly story times at the library (which K looked forward to so much) and evolved into more elaborate bedtime stories. Whether we’re reading a book or making up a fun story off the top of our heads, the benefits of storytelling for kids are enormous.
Storytelling for kids is not just fun. When we’re telling stories to our children, it’s doing wonders for their imaginations and teaching them some valuable lessons. Here’s why you should be incorporating storytelling in your children’s lives from a very early age.
Benefits of Storytelling for Kids
It Helps Kids Develop Coping Skills
Children are going through so many levels of emotions on a daily basis and are constantly learning how to not only deal with certain situations or events but also how to understand and manage their own feelings. Storytelling can be a HUGE help when it comes to assisting them with this. This is especially where creating your own stories can help as you can cater them exactly to what your child is going through. Otherwise difficult situations can also be dealt with through storytelling, where children are learning about their feelings and how to maybe deal with what’s going on. The arrival of a sibling, starting school, an upcoming dentist appointment, the loss of a pet, the death of a family member, or an issue with friends at school are all just examples of where stories can really help. It’s also a great opportunity to let your child see how normal those feelings they have are, that’s it okay to feel sad or anxious or angry, while providing them with ideas on how to handle these situations. We used storytelling a lot when K’s baby sister was born, as he had a really difficult transition period. Thankfully, we are coming out of that now, but I believe the storytelling really helped him deal with his emotions.
It Improves Listening and Communication Skills
Learning how to sit (or lie) and listen to a story can do wonders for helping with those jumping beans. While K is non-stop go-go-go all day long, there’s something about stories that immediately draw him in and calm him down. He can be running wild, but the second I begin a story or open a book, he’s right there beside me, eyes wide open and ready to listen. He’s the same way for our library or playgroup story times, and I just adore watching his facial expressions as he gets so into stories. Listening and taking part in stories also really helps kids’ communication skills. They can learn and develop new words, concepts, and ways of communicating just by listening to the words being spoken or the interaction between characters.
It Helps Their Imagination Grow
Stories introduce new ideas, characters, worlds and so much more into our children’s imaginations. It lets them dream about what they want to do, who they want to become, where they want to be, and more. The beauty of the imagination is that it lets you go wherever you want. Children need time and space to develop their own ideas and thoughts, and giving them opportunities to use their imagination allows them to focus on what they want to experience, create their future, or just be alone in their thoughts. The imagination also stimulates creativity, which is huge for kids. And let’s not forget about the magic that comes along with using our minds and imagination. When I was growing up, books were always a way for me to become immersed in a new situation, transport myself back in time, or just escape reality for a bit if need be. To this day, a good book is still one of my favourite ways to unwind and get away from any stresses of the everyday.
Storytelling Increases Learning and Language Skills
With stories, kids are learning all sorts of new concepts about shapes, colours, sizes, numbers, names of objects, and even simple tasks, like brushing their teeth or making food. Stories introduce them to new words and helps with their language. Stories also teach important life lessons like being kind and how to deal with difficult situations.
It Raises Confidence Levels
Children who can read well are more likely to have higher confidence levels. This will benefit them in school as they’ll feel able to participate fully in activities. Another part of building confidence and self-esteem is knowing where you fit into the world. Stories can help with this process by showing children what people’s lives are like where they live and in other parts of the world.
Storytelling Fosters a Love of Reading
We’ve been reading to our two little ones ever since they were both born and I truly believe this has helped foster a love of reading and books. Whether it’s a visit to one of our local libraries, a personalized book or a bedtime story, there are so many ways to incorporate storytelling into your lives. You can use your child’s current interest to encourage this love of reading by telling or finding stories related to whatever it is that they are currently really into. For instance, we’ve gone through potty training books, stories about Australian animals, firefighting books, seasonal books, and more. Baby K also already loves all her books and gets so excited for story time.
Storytelling is Relaxing
Stories before bed. We always hear about how this is a good idea, and there’s a reason for it. Children NEED that downtime before bed. The hour leading up to bed is a great opportunity to introduce quiet time and relaxing activities. Books are a main part of our highly routine and we read two books or tell a story or two right before lights go out.
Do you read stories every day with your kids? How do they help in your home? I’d love to know!