Fall is now very definitely here. Temperatures are getting cooler and nights are getting longer. That means there’s less time for outdoor play but more time for indoor activities like arts, crafts, and storytelling. Storytelling should always be fun but it can be educational too. With that in mind, here are some tips on how to make the most of storytime.
Know what your goals are
In terms of reading development, your initial goal is just to help your child absorb vocabulary. This will lead to them making the connection between words and pictures and, sometimes, words and sounds (for example animal noises).
After this comes letter recognition. This is the foundation for actual reading so working it into your storytime sessions can do a lot to help your child’s learning. The good news is that the internet has some really helpful tips for encouraging letter recognition.
If your child has a really solid grasp of the alphabet, they’ll probably find it much easier to tackle the next goal. This is learning words and patterns. Once they have grasped these, the rest of their reading journey is essentially about polishing the skills they’ve already learned.
In general, children only start learning the alphabet properly when they’re about six. It generally takes them a couple of years to go from letter recognition to being confident with words and patterns. That said, each child is an individual. Some will progress faster, others may take a little longer.
Your storytime session is probably going to be based on a book (although there are other options). The story is, however, a starting point rather than an endpoint. Ideally, you should try to build in extra activities based on the story. Depending on how you’re managing storytime, you might do these while you’re reading the story or at another time.
In general, if you’re doing storytime at bedtime, then you want to keep the extra activities to a minimum. The priority is to get your kids to sleep. If, however, you’re doing storytime in the daytime, then definitely try and build in some extra activities while you tell the story.
At a minimum, “pause” the story every so often and ask your child questions relating to it. These can be questions about the story itself or questions which follow on from the story. For example, if a character leaves a story, ask your child what they think the character did next.
If you’re doing storytime for children of different ages, then building in different activities can help to keep everyone engaged. You could also try having the older one(s) take turns reading and/or helping the younger ones. This helps both to learn.
Have your child read along with you
With at least some of your storytime sessions, have your child sit on your lap or beside you so they can follow along as you read. If they want, have them put their finger on the page so they keep track of the words. Alternatively, you can do this for them if it’s more comfortable for you both.
It will probably take a while but, a little at a time, your child will start to make the connection between the words on the page and the words they hear. It might help them if you give them other visual clues. Most children’s books will have a lot of illustrations so you can read a word aloud and then show your child the written word and the picture.
If they don’t, then it’s easy enough to make picture cards yourself. If you really can’t draw at all, then just get pictures from the internet. Have these nearby when you’re reading your stories so you can show them to your child at appropriate moments. You can also create cards with words on them and ask your child to show you the picture in the book, which matches that word.
Work on your storytelling skills
As a parent, you want your child’s storytime sessions to be educational. Your child, however, just wants them to be fun. That means you need to make the story come alive for them. The good news is that most humans do have some basic storytelling skills. You understand how to vary the pitch, tone, and volume of your voice and your speed.
This will often be more than enough to keep most children very happy. If, however, you really want to make the most of story time then try working on your storytelling skills. This can make story time more fun for you as well as for your children. It can also help you in other areas of your life. Again, there is lots of information and help on the internet.