You may not realize it, but when your child retells how their best friend broke his arm at recess, or makes up a story as she pretends to babysit her dolls, he or she is developing some critical language skills! A successful storyteller may mean your child will have increased language and literacy success as they get older. Here are some benefits of having your child tell stories and some fun activities to encourage it!
Start with Pictures
As parents, we often take endless pictures of our children having different experiences. After an outing like a trip to the zoo, beach or a birthday party, make a photo album on your phone with the pictures you took there. Show them to your child, and ask him or her to retell the fun events of their day to another family member or friend! This activity works on developing your child's memory skills, and the visual cue of seeing the photos can help. It also encourages your child to put words in the correct order to form cohesive sentences.
Make a Book
Fold a stack of several pieces of paper in half and staple together to make a book. On the left side of each page, ask your chid to make a picture. He or she can get creative and draw, add stickers, paint, or use stamps. If he or she needs some direction, give ideas like your child's favorite animal, family members, or favorite places to go. Older children can then write words to go with their story on the opposite side of the page. Younger children can tell you the words as your write. Storytelling activities like this encourage your child's ability to sequence events in order (first, next, last) and verbally communicating using familiar vocabulary words.
Get involved in your child's pretend play! Whether they like to play with dolls, action figures, stuffed animals, or dress up, watch what your child seems to be interested in and how he or she prefers to play. If he or she is verbal and talks for the toys, jump in by grabbing a toy of your own and doing the same. Help develop your child's language skills as they tell stories about a pretend scenario with the toys by asking leading questions incorporating who, what, where, when, and why. If your child seems to pretend with toys but isn't yet talking consistently, encourage him or her to verbally communicate by modeling simple words that tell a story as you play. For example, say "hi" and "bye-bye" as a figurine comes in and out of a doll house, or "yummy" and then "all gone" as you pretend a toy animal is eating food that he then finishes.
Whether retelling true stories or getting lost in a pretend world where they make up their own, storytelling can be fun, encourage imagination, and develop your child's language and literacy skills!