How to Tell Stories to Your Children - Creative Parenting Tips on Story Telling to Kids

What are the benefits of reading stories to your children and what's the best way of doing it? How to you make it interesting? How do you increase their learning? Make story telling time a pleasure for both parent and child with these top storytelling tips.

THE POWER OF STORYTELLING

When you see an indifferent, bored or restless kid suddenly entranced by a beguiling story tale, you can fully appreciate the power of storytelling and the rewards it brings to both listener and storyteller. Here are just a few of the benefits of telling bedtime stories to your child:

1. Storytelling helps you bond with your child

Storytelling is one of the best ways to create a bond with your child. You are communicating and engaging with your child on a one-to-one basis. It is also a good chance for your child to find out something about you too as you can put your personal touches into the story.

2. Story time forms part of a restful routine before bedtime

Most parents understand the enormous benefits of sleep for a young child. However, many toddlers refuse to go to bed. Creating a quiet and regular schedule before bedtime helps get your child to go to bed.

3. Story time is one of the most effective language-learning tools

Kids do not know the difference between learning time and play time. For them, almost all the time is play time. Reading a bedtime story is one of the best ways of teaching language skills to young children.

By the way, do not feel that you have to pause the story to explain every new word. If your child asks, by all means, explain the word, but a lot of the time they will get the meaning through context. Sometimes it is good enough for now to introduce concepts that will be explained later. For example, jokes such as puns may be very difficult to explain and you don't need to. You are simply introducing the overall concept of a 'joke' which they will learn to understand in finer detail as their learning progresses.

4. Story time teaches so much more than language

Storytelling does not introduce simply language and vocabulary. Ethics, geology, botany, physics, zoology, chemistry, human behavior, social skills..all these areas may be introduced through seemingly simple tales.

5. Storytelling time will help your child to concentrate and focus

The nightly bedtime story is most of the most simple yet effective means of forming the habit of concentration, of fixed attention in your child.

BEST WAYS TO READ STORIES TO YOUR CHILD

Here are simple tips for reading stories to your children.

1. Schedule time for storytelling and turn it into part of your bedtime routine

Getting your child ready for bedtime is often the second most stressful, busy time of the day, next to the morning off-to-school rush. As mentioned, you should make storytelling part of your night time ritual. Switch off the TV and any other noise, put away toys and other distractions. Dim the lights except for your reading lamp, settle your child down on the sofa with their warm glass of milk and read them an engaging story. This creates an atmosphere and routine your child will learn to understand, and will have them calm and ready for bed. I know that you might be tired and distracted, but try to make this time focused

2. Picking the right bedtime story

A great bedtime story has a sense of familiarity but with some magic or mystery, repetition, great characters and a storyline that moves along.

Goldilocks and The Three Bears, for example, contains familiar and related objects and situations such as a breakfast setting of porridge, chairs, beds, a mummy, a daddy etc. It also achieves an air of mystery "who's been sitting in my bed" and magic by having three bears at the center of the tale.

A classic tale such as Jack and The Beanstalk has wonderful characters from the old lady Jack meets along the way, the giant's wife, and of course, the wonderfully scary Giant with those memorable lines "Fe Fi Fo Fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman". It is a great chance of course for you to put on your most dramatic voice.

A tale like Three Little Pigs has lots of repetition so the child is able to anticipate parts of the story. The big bad wolf goes up to one of the little pig's houses and he will blow and will blow....but what will happen next!?

It is hard to go wrong if you pick one of the classic fairytales: The Ugly Duckling, Cinderella, The Frog Princess, Goldilocks and The Three Bears, The Princess And The Pea, Rapunzel and so many more.

As for the best modern bedtime stories: try the works of Julia Donaldson, Maurice Sendak's Where The Wild Things Are and of course, Dr Seuss.

3. It helps to know the story

If you are already familiar with the bedtime story, you can turn your primary focus onto your child. Eye contact is a key part of bonding and you can't engage your child by looking in their eyes if your head is in a book. Knowing the story also means you can be spontaneous and ad-lib a little.

4. Delivery

Speak with passion and engagement and you are sure to hold your child in rapt attention. Obviously do not rush, keep to a pace your child can follow but at the same time, there's no need to string out every word. Act as if you are hearing the story for the first time too: express surprise, humor, tension as the story goes along.

5. Participation

As your child grows older, encourage them to participate in the storytelling. They can repeat "Fe Fi Fo Fum" with you, for instance, or you can ask them what they think will happen next. Obviously, hold off if your child is quite tired (by the way, you don't have to finish the story if they are too tired, just bookmark for the next night) or busy with their milk or too young. Before they learn to read, you can point at the pictures. Once they start to learn to read, you can follow the words with your finger or ask them to do the same. Do not dismiss their questions even if they are not relevant. This interaction and questioning is a valuable part of their cognitive learning.

6. Enjoy yourself

And finally, enjoy story time, do not see it as a chore, and your child will feel that sense of passion, concentration and joy.

Gemma Swansburg is re-reading her favorite bedtime story, Anne Of Green Gables. Gemma is a writer/researcher. Visit her latest article, a series of Luminess tan reviews. For best prices, product info and special offers for the Luminess tan airbrush system and other airbrush makeup equipment, visit airbrushmakeupfoundation.com.

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