Yesterday was the Oscars and the birthday of Dr. Seuss. What could they have in common and how could it be relevant to children’s early learning and kindergarten readiness? Dr. Seuss is beloved story teller and the Oscars celebrate the power of story. Stories are a powerful tool for all kinds of teaching and learning. As human beings we are hard-wired for story and we can use stories with children as another way to support their development.
Our brains crave stories. 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 would still count.
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 about things that are happening for them and for the family. 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.
The endurance of Dr. Seuss and the decades of the Oscars are proof that we all love stories. What stories will you share with your child today?