Did you know that human beings are hard-wired for story? Our brains crave stories as a brain-food and they are a powerful tool for all kinds of teaching and learning. As parents and caregivers we can use stories with children as another way to support their development. On my radio show Learn and Play with Mrs. A I’ll be talking to parent, author, teacher and college professor David Ward about kids and stories. The show will air Monday, June 10th at Noon ET.
At the very least, simply reading to your child will prewire the brain for the challenge of learning to read. Stories will use far more words than kids do so just listening will increase a child’s vocabulary. Stories will use a wider variety of sentence structures familiarizing the ear to different language patterns and rhythms. Learning to read is a complex task and hearing hundreds of stories first, prepares the ground, much like we prepare the soil in the garden before planting the seeds. It isn’t hard to share hundreds and even thousands of stories with kids. Just 3 or 4 a day, several times a week makes a couple of dozen. That adds up to about a hundred a month, and over a thousand in a year. Hopefully, it’s not one story a hundred times, but that still counts.
As kids hear stories, they understand that there is usually a beginning, a middle with a problem, and then an ending with a solution. This builds in an expectation that problems have solutions and that we can work on them to figure things out. Besides stories in books, we can tell stories to kids. I will confess that I told a story about a sock on the floor that wished to be in the laundry hamper with the other socks. It was so lonely and really hoped someone would pick it up and take it to be with some friends. Problems in stories can certainly be much more involved than socks left on the floor.
Young children have lots to figure out as they try to make sense of the world around them. Stories are one way of supporting children to do that. What stories do you share with your child?
P.S. I’ve asked David Ward to read part of a story on air! But I have no idea which book…