Teach your child to tell a good story – here's why it matters!
As humans, we communicate most meaningfully through stories. So yes, telling a story is an incredibly valuable skill for a little one to develop!
Being able to create their own narratives will give your child a sense of agency, help them access their inner portals of deep feeling and creativity, and hone many other vital skills too.
Read on to find out how exactly telling stories benefits your child and what you can do to help them tell awesome tales.
How does telling stories help kids?
1. Develops creative thinking - When you think stories, you think creativity! Using the imagination, thinking on the feet, and finding unique ways to bring different elements together are all crucial parts of telling a good story. These skills are sure to pay off in other areas of your child’s life too!
2. Hones language skills - Telling stories is fantastic to build language and vocabulary. When your child is challenged to find a word, they may use alternatives, which will help hone their word association ability and improve their overall communication skills.
3. Boosts confidence & self-esteem - Being able to tell a great story is a matter of pride for everyone, from adults to young children! Captivating an audience, making them laugh, and leaving them hanging on every word will give your child a solid boost of self-esteem.
4. Enhances social & emotional skills - The ability to weave an interesting tale won’t just help your child win over their classmates, but it will tune their sense of empathy, which is key in building a vibrant social circle.
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5. Improves active listening - It’s a well known fact that the best storytellers are the best listeners! To develop a realistic story that strikes a chord with others, your child will have to pay attention to the world and actively listen to people around them.
6. Promotes organizational thinking - While building a story, they have to come up with a beginning, the rise of a plot, a sequence of action, cause and effect, and a conclusion. Working through these details will improve your little one's ability to arrange and utilize more complex systems of information.
7. Strengthens learning abilities - Storytelling is also a super fun way to exercise multiple core learning skills including concentration, focus, and memory.
6 fun ways to help your kids tell stories
While storytelling is an intuitive process, it also has some constant elements – a beginning, plot development, and a satisfactory end. There have to be characters with unique personalities and your child may have to use of funny voices, silly jokes, or strong emotions to make it captivating. So let’s look at some ways you can give your little one this storytelling practice.
1. Use picture books as cues
Children’s picture books are the perfect place to start! Let your child look at the pictures and make up their own stories. This might be tougher with stories they already know. In that case, ask them to narrate the tale in their own words as you flip the pages. You could even ask them questions – why did the bunny run away? How is this boy flying? – and offer them a chance to think of the story in a deeper way!
2. Role play with puppets
There’s something special about a puppet – when you wear one on your hand or finger, it just takes a life of its own! You could use finger puppets to have interactive storytelling sessions at home, with one family member playing one character. Build a story together and see where it takes you.
If you have an expressive little one bursting with inspiration, let them put on their own puppet show where they have hilarious conversation with the puppet on their hand!
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3. Manufacture inspiration
Every storyteller is looking for just the right inspiration, but you don’t have to sit around waiting. Gather a few random objects from around the house and ask your child to come up with a story using the objects in front of them. An empty toilet paper roll, an old cardboard box, a colourful dupatta, or a bowl of water could turn into tunnels, ships, mountain, and oceans!
You could also take them on a ‘story hunt’ to the nearest playground, park, or grocery store. Instruct them to keep their eyes peeled for anything they can add to their story. Once you get home, take turns sharing stories using the people, activities, and objects you saw.
4. Build a storytelling ritual
Take turns telling stories to each other during bath time or before bed. This will not only give your child a chance to unwind, but will allow them the space to express themselves.
Encourage your little one to use what’s happened during the day and incorporate it into their tales – the names of their friends, things they learnt, and how they felt. This will build their emotional intelligence and can be a useful self-soothing tactic too.
5. Act it out with pretend play
Storytelling is an awesome part of play too, especially pretend play. Pretend play toys help kids recreate things that they see around them every day. With Diwali around the corner, you could ask your child to recreate the Ramayana story with themed Peg Dolls, or maybe even give it their own spin!
Ramayana as told by shumee kids – we can't get enough of this adorable retelling!
6. Put on a show!
Don’t just tell a story, let your child act it out! Give them a stage and all your attention and let them launch into a performance. A ‘stage’ will push them to keep things interesting with voice modulations, dramatics, and some humor! Being able to tell a good story well will boost your child's confidence, which will surely spill over into other areas in their lives.
There’s a story everywhere.
As author and storyteller Janaki Sabesh reminds us, there are stories everywhere. Every person, object, and space has the potential to become a funny, magical, or scary story. All it takes is an open mind and a gentle push – bring out the unique stories in your child, the world will be better for it!