Today’s task is to start telling stories to your preschooler! Storytelling is such a beautiful way to connect with young children. We live in a print culture so most of us feel more comfortable reading stories aloud. I’d like to encourage you though that you can definitely get confident as a storyteller with some practice!
There are two categories of stories to tell your preschooler. The first category is spontaneous stories. These are stories that come from you - from your own heart, imagination, observation, and experience. These stories can be so simple and so beloved at the same time. Please read this back post to learn all about telling simple stories.
The second category is timeless stories. These are the stories that have been passed down for generations, sometimes for hundreds of years. They are cultural artifacts but at the same time they are full of archetypal images that speak to people around the world. These are the folk and fairy tales. I wrote a post recently on getting started with storytelling in kindergarten. That post describes the why and how of telling stories and it’s relevant for parents of preschoolers as well. The only different recommendation that I would make for children under 5 is to stick with the more simple and repetitive nursery stories and to tell the same story for a longer stretch (up to a month at a time).
Here are some lovely examples of nursery stories:
How to tell stories:
1. Just jump in. Don’t think too much and don’t worry about your stories being perfect. Your child will love them and you will get more confident over time!
2. Tell stories anytime and for any reason at all. Nature stories, fairy tales, stories from your own childhood, simple stories you make up on the fly, pedagogical stories, stories to reassure your child, and so on are all wonderful!
3. When you feel ready, make story time part of your daily rhythm. Light a candle, say a verse, and settle in for a special story.
4. Choose simple repetitive nursery tales for your preschooler (save the more complex fairy tales for kindy and first grade). Most of all choose stories you yourself enjoy.
5. In the preschool years choose one story to tell once a day for two to four weeks at a time. After you have told the story several times you can enjoy acting out the story, putting on a puppet play, crafting, or coloring from the story - just keep it light and don’t turn it into a lesson at this age.
6. Learn the story by heart before you tell it. Many parents do this by reading it to themselves three nights in a row before they go to sleep. I find that reading a story out loud to myself helps me learn it. Understand that “learning by heart” is a bit different from memorizing word for word. But do recite any repetitive phrases the same way each time so your little one can learn to speak it along with you!
What are your favorite stories to tell your preschooler? If you ever felt uncomfortable telling stories, how did you get over the hump?