This week’s post is a guest post from Zara Lewis. She is a freelance writer and a mom, who is stopping by to write about the art of bedtime stories. You can read more from her here.
One of my favourite things as a parent is reading my son stories. He is a big bookworm already and I love it! We all know that reading has benefits for our kids, but we rarely consider the full extent of these benefits.
The art of bedtime storytelling: influence on child development
Long before they were ever written down, stories existed in the oral form and were passed on from generation to generation, beautifully altering along the way, but with a never-changing moral of the story. The famous French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss underlined the importance of myths and ancient stories by explaining how societies expressed their moral and ethical values through these wonderful art forms and preserved them for future generations. This incredible heritage of the entire human race is still kept alive on a daily basis through the simple act of telling (or reading) bedtime stories to children. Here are the main benefits of continuing to do so. Some may even surprise you.
Strengthening the bond
Storytelling affects emotional, social, and cognitive development. It helps your child to build healthy relationships in the future, starting from the one it develops with you, as a parent. The most important thing to successful storytelling is setting a safe environment so that your child feels comfortable, protected, and relaxed enough to enjoy the story. Throughout the years, it will become a precious childhood memory and the time you’ve spent together will strengthen your bond.
Establishing a good night routine
Well established sleeping cycle is crucial for healthy brain functioning and overall well-being of your child. That is why bedtime rituals are so important: they help your child to unwind as the sleeping time approaches. Along with warm baths and strict time schedule, bedtime stories are a significant part of creating a sleeping routine from the earliest age. Create a sleep-friendly atmosphere for your loved one so that it feels safe and fully enjoys your soothing voice of reading. Keep your bundle of joy warm by tucking it in the baby swaddle, lie down or sit beside your kid and enjoy the moments of true love that will come. In order to provide a sleep friendly atmosphere, you can paint the room’s walls in a calming color (e.g. light gray, soft blue, or natural green), but you also need to mind the tidiness of the room, as well as the air quality. Always vent the room and provide clean and fresh bed sheets. Also, some calming scents (e.g. vanilla, lavender, or jasmine) are proven to help with falling asleep.
The key to literacy
Several authors and psychologists claim that bedtime stories are a key to full cognitive development, literacy included. Reading out loud makes children memorize the proper way of speaking (i.e. pronunciation, tempo, volume, overall diction), learn new words, develop critical thinking skills, and cultivate their own desire to become a storyteller. Storytelling teaches children to get to love books and reading while empowering their imagination.
Building the moral system
Fairy tales and fables have strong moral messages attached. Through metaphors and analogies, your child will learn what is considered to be a desirable type of behavior. Books are the first frontier to the real world and fiction plays a major role in understanding right from wrong. Having in mind that humans are naturally hardwired to imitate behavior, book characters can become your child’s first role models. Most of the stories (especially fairy tales) have the hero’s journey archetype incorporated, which is the most educative and captivating structure one adventurous story can have. If you prefer to make up a story of your own, keep in mind the length and basic elements it should have: the battle between good and evil is mandatory, as well as the happy ending.
Emotional benefits and mental health
In the fast paced world we live in, most of the parents don’t devote enough time to their children, with “not now, maybe later” being the most common phrase they keep saying. Feeling love, devotion, and appreciation is crucial for child’s well-being, and it can be effectively achieved through story-time.
People have been nurturing the art of storytelling for thousands of years and it lies in the core of our existence as a species. Indeed, it’s the purest form of communication and it’s what makes us fundamentally human. Establish the bedtime story rituals and ensure your child becomes a healthy individual.