Once upon a time…
There was a little girl. She loved listening to stories. Her breakfast consisted of milk, cookies and a delightful story. Her night time routine was pyjamas, prayer and a story. Simply by listening to stories, she learnt of new worlds, she learnt new words, she learnt of new possibilities.
Wouldn’t each of us love to make this our child’s story?
Here’s how we can:
Catch them young
Listening to stories is perhaps the most captivating experience of childhood. It transcends children from the here and now to a place that is magical and full of possibilities.
Start talking to them and telling them stories from the moment you first hold them. Moms, not only will your new born love being serenaded by the sound of your voice, they will relish the love and attention you shower on them. As they grow, they will begin to understand when you are upset or distracted. And she will be delighted when you smile at something she has done.
Make her the centre of the story. Tell her about the time when she was still in momma's tummy and once kicked so hard, momma said 'ouch!' and see the toothy grin erupt. She will love listening to every word you say.
Pictures speak a thousand words
Make an album that includes all the family members' photographs. Show her these pictures and tell her who is who. Buy picture books for her like "The Very Hungry Caterpillar ". While you read the book, let her look at the pictures. The shapes and colours on the page will fascinate her and help boost her imagination. Point to things on the page and name them. Your child will learn the connection between a name and an object. It will also build her vocabulary.
Describe to your baby that you are changing her nappy then both of you will sit in that corner and play with her toys! Or if your kid is older, describe to her that you are going to the market to purchase tomatoes and potatoes to make yummy dinner for her.
At the end of each day describe the events of the day to her, "We woke up in the morning when the sun rose in the sky, we brushed our teeth, had milk and banana, played with toys then took a nap. Then Daddy came in the evening and we went for a stroll and saw trees and birds. Then we came home, had dinner and now it's time to sleep." Add as much detailing as you like.
Play what if…
Read a storybook, preferably the one your kid has chosen and then ask her what if she was in the main character's place, what would she have done? This will not only encourage her to think from another perspective but also develop problem solving skills.
What if...you were the hungry caterpillar? What would you have liked to eat? Or what if... instead of Lucy, you had discovered Narnia and had met the faun? Would you trust the faun? Would you go to his home for a cup of tea?
My turn, Your turn
Once you have established the story telling routine, your kid is more than ready to listen to stories as well as tell them herself. This is a ripe time for playing 'My turn, your turn'. Begin by telling a story, and then ask your kid to tell you a story. Or you can take turns to make up a story together by taking turns to describe what happens next.
This will not only instil in them the patience to wait for their turn, but also prove to be a great boost to their self esteem because a grown up is listening to what they have to say with complete attention.
Be the story!
Be the Red Riding Hood or the Three Little Pigs. Build a house of straw and one of wood and one of brick. Let your kid be the sly wolf that huffs and puffs and the house flies away. Play acting a story opens up a child's imagination. And it is so much fun!
Once in a while, instead of simply narrating the story, doodle it.
Who says you have to be a great artist to draw a picture. Draw a stick figure for a boy. Draw a circle for a park. The act of drawing an object makes the mind deeply attentive. It facilitates thinking and makes the ideas more tangible. Studies show that doodlers recall information up to 29% more than non-doodlers.
Storytelling is a great tool in the hands of parents. Whether it is instilling values in children or teaching them moral lessons, connecting with them or simply having fun, the act of telling a story is like creating a magnetic field – the result it is powerful, persuasive and it's got potential to move mountains!