Mommy, Tell Me a Story!
Learning to invent stories develops literacy, stimulates imagination, and enhances family relationships. By engaging your child's imagination, you develop her ability to think outside the box. Hearing stories about the time you got spanked for cutting the curtains or threw up on your 2nd grade teacher makes it okay for kids to feel negative emotions. Exploring fear, in particular, is a function of the classic fairy tales.
How to Get Started
Chances are you've already improvised stories to your kids without thinking about it. When you change the words while reading, either substituting a word they'll understand or editing phrases that they're not ready to face (think guns or death), you are tailoring a story to your child. And that's the essence of storytelling, making it up as you go along. Storytelling differs from reading books in that it's more like a conversation. You're taking feedback and editing on the fly. Try these starters:
- Stories from your own life (for kids of any age). It's not necessary to make up stories. Tell about playing as a child, or even times when you got into trouble. Family stories strengthen family connections.
- Stories everyone knows (best for preschoolers). Start out with something that you're very comfortable with, like Little Red Riding Hood or Goldilocks, and tell it in your own words.
- Stories on the spot. Ask your kids, "If you were going to be an object on this dinner table, what would you be? Tell me about it." Then ask questions. If your child has picked the salt shaker, ask them what kind of foods they'd want to sit on, and so forth.