We cannot underestimate the power of storytelling, the powerful tool to pass on knowledge, concepts, morals, history, facts or any emotional value one may choose. It is no surprise then that children are always making up their own stories as much as adults do. The difference is probably in the choice of words and expression. In my observation, being a “parent” in today’s world is overwhelming with so much of social media advice on parenting available that one really does not know which is the right or best way to bring up a child. But the only comforting factor for me is to listen intently to that one thing gifted to you as a parent ‘INTUITION’. This is also important in choosing the stories you wish to tell your child. Here today I speak of the different ways we can make story telling a wonderful way to bond with our children.
TIME OF THE DAY IS NOT A FACTOR – We are somehow always bound by time and that’s a misery in itself. Anytime can be story time! It can be just as we wake up and are watching the sun or when we are packing lunch for our kids. Story telling need not be restricted to just bedtime or for when “I’m back from work”. When story-time gets time-bound, in the era where there is absolutely no time for anything, the quality time we spend with our children only gets postponed or wrongly prioritised. So, when you get some free time through the day seize it and you will not regret it. Pick a book or use your imagination. You can be surprised what a 2 minute story or a 20 minute fable can do. It’s your clock really!
OBSERVE IF YOU CHILD IS MORE OF A LISTENER – All children may not be the best of listeners, maybe they would love to express and be the story teller. Let them play the part. Just lend your ears respectfully without adding your words or interrupting to correct them. It is their story after all. If the story has a woman with beard so be it.
MOVE WITH THER INTERESTS – I have observed many parents take their children to a book shop and sprawl learning books, math activity books, coloring books in front of them, while the children will be lost in the world of story books with bright colorful pictures that probably sparked their curiosity and interest. It’s like taking the child to a candy shop and buying broccoli instead. If you intend to take them shopping, let them go through the books they want to see, observe their interests and pick books that align with it. Choose what they like and not what you like or think they ‘should’ read. You may have personal opinions but the moment you pass it on to your children there is no room for them to create their own opinions through experience.
ALLOW FOR EXPRESSION – While you tell a story, prompt them to express what they felt about the story. Often, I’ve seen children changing the plot altogether, or say that they hated the story and never want it again. Observe these carefully as it will help you make the right choice for the next story or book. This is also one of the ways to see what affects your child the most, what they fear, what they love and then it will be easier to address it.
NARRATE STORIES FROM REAL LIFE – We often run out of stories from our imagination or have exhausted the library. You can always do a story “When I was little…” or “When I was coming back from work…”, “When your grandma was in the village…” What more could be inspiring for the child to hear ‘your’ stories – ‘their real heroes’?
IT IS NOT A CRIME TO USE RESOURCES WISELY IN THE DIGITAL AGE -The constant battle for parents is whether to expose their children to digital devices or not. What we need to accept is that we live in a digital age and it is nearly impossible for all us to keep away those glistening gadgets and that includes children who keenly observe our relationship with these devices. All we need to do is ensure the consumption doesn’t lead to addiction and this is also true with anything else. If your child doesn’t like physical books you could always try interactive digital books that are so engaging and help your kids enjoy stories in a new way. Do not fear the digital age, it has its perks.
MAKE A UNIFIED DECISION – If you are going about picking a book to read, include your child in doing the same. For example: You choose a book and let you child pick another. This way you read a story of his/her interest at the same time maybe expose them to a new concept through the book you chose. Together you decide the story journey of books and life.
We understand decisions are hard to make while picking the right library or books especially when money and choice poses a challenge.
It’s important to understand you and your child are on the same journey of learning and living it. What matters the most is that we are living it together naturally, be it story time, bed time, cleaning time or anytime. Don’t let the clock chase you for precious moments with your child.
What do you think are the biggest challenges in choosing books or story telling with your children? Are you finding it hard to pick books for his/her age? Are you short of language books? Share your comments and thoughts.