One of the best things about growing up is the stories we hear and the stories we create out of our experiences. Stories have figured prominently in cultures for centuries, from elaborately woven folktales to humorous anecdotes. But their function is not mere entertainment.
These days the forms and sources of stories have changed. Though it began as an oral tradition, it soon found a comfortable home in the pages of books. Now we have interactive apps and games for preschoolers that follow a story line and even offer virtual storybooks!
But despite the change in the way they are presented, these stories still give children the same benefits as they did in earlier days.
Benefits of Stories
Stories, at every stage in our life, can make a difference. How do preschoolers benefit from stories?
- Language – Stories improve language skills as preschoolers will learn new vocabulary and acquire an understanding of sentence structure. If they listen to the stories, they can understand intonation and other aspects of verbal communication. When they read stories aloud, they can develop fluency. Their ability to comprehend the story can help them in their academics.
- Imagination – Stories fire up a child’s imagination. They begin to make connections and will learn to think visually. It allows them to think in different ways and make free associations that develop their creativity. Stories also enhance memory.
- Culture – Certain stories teach children about their history and culture. Not just that, but they will also learn about other cultures which will increase their understanding of the world. It allows young children to step out of the narrow confines of their environment into something bigger.
- Social – Stories are a safe way to introduce children to a variety of life experiences so that they understand emotions they are yet to experience. This allows them to communicate emotional responses appropriately. Stories specific to situations children may encounter like bullying or attending a party or making friends are often helpful in developing their social skills.
How to Tell a Good Story
How do you engage preschoolers in a story so that it gives you the desired results?
Picture books without words are a great place to start. You can describe each scene in a simple sentence, while asking your child questions about what they see and what they think will happen.
Try relating a personal experience that you shared with your child. Perhaps you went to the park where you saw a butterfly and it started raining. Remind your child about it and together construct a story out of that experience. Encourage your child to retell his own experiences so that they can relate to their experiences with ease. They will also learn to arrange the events in the right sequence.
Tell children stories without reading the story from a book. Whatever the story, using simple sentences, vivid imagery, emotions, and exaggerated body language can hold a preschooler’s attention. You can even include props wherever possible like finger puppets. Ask them questions to keep them interested or ask them to finish the story for you. Try the string-a-long story method where you take turns telling stories!
When your preschooler finally makes their way to reading, allow them to choose their own storybooks and allow them to lose themselves in the tale!