BEDTIME is one of the best and hardest times of the day. Your little one going to sleep gives you an opportunity for some alone time either to relax after a long day or to get some chores done.
One of the best ways of putting your kids down is by singing or reading to them. However, the stories that we tell them can be very limiting. For the most part it’s the usual stories found in kindergarten books or ones we heard when we were children. With time, these can fail to capture the child’s interest or lull them to sleep.
Therefore, we need to be creative and know what stories to tell them. Studies have shown that kids who are told bedtime stories grow up to be more creative than children who didn’t have bedtime stories told to them.
Apart from boosting your child’s creativity, telling them bedtime stories is also a great way to bond with your little one especially on school/work days when you don’t get to spend too much time with them. I can assure you they might not be able to express themselves too well but they really look forward to story time with you.
Bedtime stories are also a great time to teach your child important values. Here’s how to tell a great bedtime story.
Identify your child’s interests
Not all stories work for all children. It’s hard to believe that not all little girls like princesses and not all small boys like cars. It’s important for you to know what your child is interested in without imposing your interests.
Using their interests, you can swap the characters in their story book with those they like. This will be more interesting for your child and is also a great way to nurture their interests.
Allow them to choose
Remember it’s their bedtime story not yours. I know it’s boring to have to read the same story every day of the week but if they like it read it to them. If you have a collection of storybooks allow them to pick out the story they want to hear.
Yes, they might have slept off mid-story the previous night but that doesn’t mean they have to complete the story the next day if they don’t want to.
Don’t just sit there and read. It’s important to vary your tone when reading out parts with different characters and also use expressions. Mimic crying, laughter or any emotions expressed in the story. Make story time as interesting as possible. This will excite your kid and they will always look forward to bedtime stories with you.
In the event that you want to make up your own story or your child is bored with their story book, you can create a plot twist. Instead of telling the story as it is you can make a few adjustments that will excite them. Kids are curious and smart. They like learning new things and this is a great way to sneak in teachable moments for your little one.
Use books with images
Kids love colourful images and drawings. Ensure that their storybooks have pictures of the characters as this will help to capture their interest even more and also a great way for them to learn. Don’t make storytime too serious. You can make coloured paper cutouts of animals and objects to use when storytelling. You can involve your little one in colouring the paper animals too.
Kids thrive more where they are encouraged. Encourage your child to create stories and participate in storytelling. You can give them parts to read out loud or make them point out images that are being mentioned in the story. This is a good way to start teaching them how to name objects and how to read. ■