I believe stories sustain us in times of trouble and encourage us to think of solutions we would not envision otherwise. They enrich our children’s lives but unfortunately all of us don’t give this aspect of parenthood the due it deserves.
Storytelling is an art that needs no formal training, it develops through practice and inclination and an urgency to coomunicate. If you wish to tell a story to your children, you would do so even if you have to make it up along the way.
The beauty of it is that your children are neither critics nor judges of what you tell – just avid listeners. And when you see them hanging on to every word you utter with a rapt expression, it is worth every word that passes your lips.
If making up a story is not your forte, rely on the resources easily available. Look for interesting stories. There are enough means available for you to fill up your own kitty of stories.
After a while you will be able to join two and two together and make five stories out of them! Let us not forget how lucky we were to have spent our formative years listening to stories about the jungle and its population of animals – the tailless lion, the clever crow, the tortoise and the hare…Stories that proved to be stepping stones to adulthood.
Just as there are creative writing workshops for people who want to explore the art, you, too, can pick up a few tricks along the way:
- Diversity, imagination, surprise, subtlety are the ingredients that make for good storytelling. Stick to your children’s favourite stories but also give them something new each time. Do not let the storytelling hour become stale at any cost.
- Make storytelling a special occasion, a “just you and your child” time. This is the reason why children are so fond of their grand parents. Make this time special and try not to skip it. You can perhaps shorten the duration at times but don’t forego it. It is a time the child looks forward to.
- Be alive to the possibility that the “harmless” story that you are recounting actually passes on strong gender biases such as wicked witches and stepmothers, among others.
- Some stories are shared at certain times of the year, like during festivals. Make sure you share all these with your children. This is how parents, family members and elders share their knowledge with the younger generation. This is how you can pass on the richness of your culture to your child.
- Once your child is a little older read out a story to him instead of narrating it. This will involve him in the process and help inculcate the habit of reading in him, a habit that will stand him in good stead.
- Read your children happy stories at bedtime and see this bedtime ritual transform into an aid for relaxation and sleep. As time passes, you’ll be amazed at how many of these facts were actually absorbed in those brains just before the child drifted off. The bonus is they may learn something interesting in the process.
This is quality time, in case you’ve been wondering what these specialists keep talking about. Besides wouldn’t you want to be your child’s favourite storyteller for all times to come?