Building brains and making bonds: Story time is serious business

by Freya Lucas

March 26

Early childhood education and care (ECEC) educators and parents are being encouraged to build stronger relationships with children, whilst developing brain architecture, through the power of something simple and sentimental to many – telling them a story.

 

Associate Professor Julie Green, Executive Director of parenting website raisingchildren.net.au, said parents were “bombarded” with messages about how to raise children, saying it was too easy to lose sight of the simple things, which often have the most impact, such as sharing a story together.  

 

“Most of the discussion around literacy focuses on the importance of reading,” Associate Professor Green said, “but evidence also shows there are benefits to parents and educators sitting down with children and telling stories together. Both reading and telling stories together have benefits way beyond literacy.”

 

As people celebrate World Storytelling Day at events around the country this week, Associate Professor Green was keen to point out the many benefits to children when caring adults share a story with them, such as:

 

  • Building social bonds between adults and children

 

  • Helping children feel secure

 

  • Supporting social and emotional development

 

  • Helping children make sense of the world, including exploring big themes and confronting issues through the ‘one step removed’ vehicle of story

 

  • Building brain architecture through connecting neural pathways in ‘serve and return’ reactions.

 

The theme for World Storytelling Day in 2019 is Myths, Legends and Epics. Professional storyteller, Anne E. Stewart says it’s important to remember that “you don’t need to be an expert to make a powerful difference to children”.  

 

“Almost anything can be used as a prop as a starting point for a story – and what better day to start than World Storytelling day?” said Ms Stewart.

 

She encouraged educators and parents to use sentimental items from their own childhood to “kickstart the creative process and promote children’s imagination”.  

 

“Sharing stories about family events and history can be a good conversation starter. And if you like you can branch out to made-up tales. You can even ask your children to tell you a story. This can be great fun too,” Ms Steward said in closing.

 

More information about World Storytelling Day is available here, alongside resources to support telling stories to children.

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