Parents, I know you are busy. I know you are stressed at the end of the day. Getting your child (or children) through the bedtime routine is daunting some nights. It can feel like a chore, and by the time you get the pajamas on, teeth brushed, house picked up, and so forth, engaging with your child for ten extra minutes is sometimes the last thing you want to do.
But pushing back whatever plans you have after your child is in bed is the best thing you can do. Spending ten more purposeful minutes with them can make all the difference in the world.
I’m not going to beat around the bush here. Your child is missing out on vital imagination, educational, and bonding opportunities if you don’t have storytime consistently.
Notice I did not say “read time.” Instead, I said “storytime.”
There is a significant difference between reading a book and telling a story. Both have their benefits in helping a child develop properly. Today, however, I would like to focus on ten reasons why storytelling (without images) is the most important ten minutes of your day as a parent.
Every child yearns for attention from their parents. Keep in mind that attention is not created equal. I can play a card game with my daughter but still be on my phone scrolling through Instagram at the same time. That is not quality time.
Our kids need quality bonding time that is uninterrupted and solely focuses on them.
The reality is that we don’t even have to spend that much time making an emotional difference for them, as long as that time and attention is high quality. By spending ten minutes at the end of their day enjoying a story together, you will enhance the bond you have with them.
During these ten minutes, you can inspire purposeful discussions. It doesn’t have to just be about the actual story. You can use the bedtime story to ask personal questions to dive deeper into your child’s mind.
By asking questions, you will develop a connection with your child. They will become better at sharing their thoughts with you. They will become comfortable confiding in you or admitting when they have done something wrong. Those characteristics are essential as they continue on in life and face more demanding challenges. Creating an open line of communication in today’s world cannot be underestimated.
Inside our Story Tyke stories, we have ‘Tyke Time’ questions that help you have purposeful discussions with your child. Get to know them. Let them know that you care by asking about their life and what’s in their mind, and it will pay dividends for you down the road.
Storytelling also improves literacy skills and vocabulary. This is especially true when images are not used very often as part of the story.
Imagine it. You are sitting there with your child, telling them a story. They have to associate words, phrases, plot lines, character actions without images as a reference. This helps them increase their understanding of word choices and word association.
I know first-hand that my oldest daughter has become more interested in learning words through our storytime. She understands a lot more by merely listening and engaging with the fictional story.
Want to teach your child virtues? Teaching kindness, being a friend, how to be compassionate, being honest, etc., is more comfortable through a bedtime story. Mostly if that virtue is being emulated by an animal or other fictional characters. Children inherently imagine the world through highly active imaginations. This makes it easier for them to associate virtues in an imaginary world.
Virtues will continue on with them as they get older if you invest the time now to teach them those virtues. Doing so through storytelling makes it easy.
Storytelling—without images—will help your child learn how to listen. It also improves their attention span. Without visuals, your child must pay attention to what is coming out of your mouth, not what image is on the page.
To understand the plotline without images to help them, they actually have to pay attention. At first, your child might not have the attention span to finish a story. It’s hard for them to concentrate, primarily being raised in a world where they have something visual to touch and look at almost instantaneously.
Through consistent storytelling, they will become more attentive, and their capacity to focus will increase. Consistency is the keyword here. Start with two or three minutes. Then work up to five, ten, or more.
Along similar lines of listening and attention span, storytelling will also build a child’s memory recall. When they are listening to a story, they will be listening to remember what is going on in that story. What is the main character in the story doing? What will happen next?
By sharing a story orally, they must remember what is happening right now to understand what is to come.
Again, this takes time and practice. A four-year-old will not have the same memory recall as an eight-year-old. But with time, consistency, and training, storytelling will help your child develop their ability to remember.
Want to help your child improve their memory further? Challenge them to retell the story in their own words or through a drawing. Grab some of our free retelling activities for traditional tales that we all love.
Storytelling can foster children’s creativity. It’s been proven that creativity is a form of self-expression. Creative experiences can help children and copy with their own feelings. Further, imagination fosters mental growth in children by providing opportunities to try out new ideas, new ways of thinking, and problem-solving.
One of the best reasons for having storytime each night is to help teach life lessons. Researchers have discovered brain activity trends that are highly unique to reading fiction. By reading something fictional, our brains can experience a similar feeling to what would happen in real life with that given scenario.
From an early age, we can teach life lessons through fun and engaging stories. You can teach them about critical societal functions, geography and nature, how to interact appropriately with their peers, and so forth.
In a highly digital, visual world, having time away from technology is essential. I recognize that there is an ease in showing bedtime stories on YouTube. Playing an audiobook and walking out of the room is much easier than engaging your child in a one-on-one storytime session.
But kids need time away from technology.
Their hearts and souls yearn for human-to-human personal communication with their parents—not Alexa telling them a story or another human sharing stories online.
Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying that kids can’t get smarter and develop by listening to storytellers other than you or reading and engaging with online resources. However, having time away from technology will help your child build up a resistance to technology’s addictive nature.
In a culture where technology is quickly taking over person-to-person interactions, we must help our children be okay without technology. It is addictive, and ten minutes of technology-free time each night will help distance them from that dependence.
Finally, the tenth reason for having storytime is to discipline in a way that your child will understand. I know it might seem strange to discipline your child through a bedtime story, but let me share a quick example:
Let’s say I was telling the story about The Three Little Pigs. The wolf huffed and puffed to blow down the houses. After repeated attempts to get what he wants, he throws a final tantrum. He just can’t not have what he wants. He resorts to climbing down the chimney, where he lands in a pot of boiling water.
I might use this ending to ask, “Do you remember that time when you were upset because you didn’t get ________? Remember how you threw that big fit just like the wolf did? That isn’t nice, is it? What happened to the wolf? If we throw fits and tantrums, we still likely won’t get our way. Instead, we’ll have to go to the corner, have a timeout, or ________. It would be better to work through our problems, talk to mom and/or dad, and…”— you get the idea.
This was a simple example off the top of my head. You will likely have ideas come to your head throughout the story that you can relate to something your child did wrong and help teach them the right thing.
The bottom line is that storytelling (without images) is vital. Stories help create a sense of wonder of the world for our children. They help convey essential life lessons, improve listening skills, memory recall, and teach virtues they desperately need to learn.
Stories help shape our view of the world, especially from a young age. Don’t let your children go to bed without spending ten quality minutes with them telling them stories—and not just book reading!
Do you struggle to create a story from scratch? Don’t have time to search for a story online? Give Story Tyke a try.
Story Tyke is the first app to personalize the storytime experience for busy parents and children. We’ve removed the traditional library, and instead deliver you personalized stories each day to save you time. It’s 100% free for 14-days, so give us a try.