Preschoolers love to learn new things. They thrive on learning and achieving new skills. However, patience is not something they typically have and the learning has to be interesting and fun to keep their attention. Also, the toddler’s mind is ready for imagination and will live in a world which is somewhat different from reality. Teaching through storytelling is a great way of resolving some of these points while achieving your parenting objectives.
How to do it
While some parents have the skills and interest to make up stories from scratch, most of us do not and, as Scheherazade found out, 1,001 is a stretch.
The easier way is to read stories from suitable books.
Look for a series of books which are suitable for the toddler and teach one or two aspects in each. The toddler has a short attention span and needs to have a story which can be completed in one or two sessions. If there are too many lessons, the message will be lost.
The books should also be colorful and have clear, simple pictures. While the adult is reading to the toddler, the toddler is viewing the picture illustrating the story and over time will also pick up the associated words.
There are a few things that can make the storytelling better and more productive:
The adult should read the book before introducing it to the child so you can set the tempo for the story. Is it a fast-moving story? Is there a threat or a danger (e.g. a wolf in the forest) which you should be aware of without being blindsided?
Try to set a regular time and place for reading. The toddler will look forward to the regimen and appreciate the security of this stability. They will most likely also regard it as a tradition which will stay with them for many years to come. Traditionally, this is bedtime with the toddler “tucked in” and ready for a soothing story while he/she falls asleep.
When you start a new book, first show your little girl the cover and talk about this. What is the story likely to be about? Who are the characters? Promote curiosity since this is one of the best ways to capture her interest.
Read the story out loud while showing the illustrations. If you can, use different voices to depict the various characters. Point out the characters.
Stop every now and then and ask questions to engage your child. Keep it simple to start with such questions as: “Oh, I can see Tom feels really sad. See his sad face?" Add more complex questions if children can cope with discussion during the story. For example: “What do you think made him feel sad?"
When you finish the book, also ask questions. What did they learn? Did they like the story? Did they like the characters? Which character was their favorite?
The Tales of the Five Enchanted Mermaids have been written to help parents teach their toddlers through telling stories. Here is one example from ”You Can Do It”:
The book’s cover shows the main characters and the title sets the theme. “I wonder why Otto has a helmet and shield?”
Otto’s problem is set out on the first page – he is mad, and at the same time sad. He was frustrated by wanting to build a castle from plastic blocks but did not know how. The Five Enchanted Mermaids are swimming by and stop to help. Each challenges Otto to think of some ideas to help solve the problem. When reading this, it is an ideal time to explore these ideas with your toddler and get a dialog going.
As with all great stories, Otto responds to the challenge and learns how to make the castle.
Parenting is not easy and there is so much to do and so little available time. Reading suitable stories which teach as well as entertain is something your toddler will love and remember for life.
Check out our books and products, and introduce your little girl to the Five Enchanted Mermaids!