The best thing about having a toddler around is the opportunity to revive the age old tradition of the bedtime story.
Many early education experts say it is tantamount for literary development to expose young ones to reading and the humble bedtime story is the best way to do it.
I find my little boy loves hearing stories though out the day and so I find myself having to invent tall tales around nap time and meal times also. So all this story telling has honed my bedtime story abilities.
I thought I’d like to share the interesting techniques I have honed through trying to keep the attention of my quasi hyper three year old.
Number one has to be to do it with tones of energy. Not always the easiest prospect after a day of running after an energetic little gal or guy and you’re not particularly looking forward to reading Winnie the Pooh for the umpteenth time! You simply need to drink a coffee or sip an energy drink or take your Gurana anything to give you the splash of vitality to entertain and tire out your child.
Here are some tips:
Be sure to use plenty of character voices with direct speech, kids love it! It helps you to entertain yourself also. Try different accents that can be fun, for some reason my son loves the Troll from the three billy goats gruff to be Russian? It’s all a little silly I know but hey, having a kid also give you a chance to be a child again!
Eye contact is essential. Don’t look constantly at the words on the page observe your child, show him you are paying attention. When you see him enjoying a section of the story, ask him about it and get him to comment. ‘Isn’t the troll mean?’ or ‘Do you like the fairy?’ Story time is also about having quality time with your child and he will love the interaction.
Involve your audience in the story. Sometimes when I see my son getting tired of the same old story, I throw him in as a character. Often my Matthias has chased Goldilocks out of the three bear’s house or has been involved in slaying the odd dragon saving the day. He loves it!
Don’t be afraid to stop and go on a sideline or answer any questions. Preschoolers are often curious and questions will begin to pop into their heads, don’t be afraid to explain things, it creates an added dimension to the story. Did you know for instance the Troll from the Billy Goat’s Gruff after he got thrown into the river was washed away to fairy land where he ate fairy food and became good. Well there you go, now you do!
Be sure to add a musical element. It’s fun to make up little songs or sound affects associated with characters to keep the child’s attention. Mattie loved me singing in the story of the little Mermaid, he even was singing her theme towards the end!
Be sure to make the bed time story a part of your routine as a way of introducing the world of reading to them. It is also good idea to make your child understand that one well told bedtime story will be enough and then it’s time to sleep. If you are too energetic or exciting they may request other stories and then you could be up all night telling tales.
Be sure to choose books with beautiful illustrations and nice clear big words. It is good to establish that the words are just as important as the pictures. Quite often verbs are highlighted or written in a particular font to illustrate their function. There are small ways to make the child understand the words are creating the story. Be sure to run your finger under the words as you read to show them how you are reading. These seem small insignificant things but they help build the path towards reading.
Why not let your child choose their own reading material. After a while of reading to them you can organise the child’s books in subject order and ask them what they would like to know about. For example I noticed my son responded well to books about animals and so we are moving towards books like the Jungle Book, basic animal encyclopedias, The Lion King, The Octonauts and Just so stories.
Don’t be afraid of non fiction. It isn’t compulsory to stick to fairy tales feel free to do nursery rhymes or any array of genres. There are endless non fiction books on the market to allow children to learn about an array of things. Mattie loves his National Geographic books, he is fascinated by insects, Dinosaurs and any kind of animals.
Feel free to share your experiences with comments.
Talking in Tongues