How Storytime Builds Resilient, Young Minds

Parents likely have a range of feelings (maybe all in the same hour) about being home with their children.  While the extra time together is invaluable, it can be stressful to take care of the kids and juggle work along with the overall uncertainty that the pandemic brings.

Parents of preschoolers, in particular, may worry about things their children are missing. Will they forget how to socialize or interact with their peers? Will their sponge-like brains be affected by the disruption of their routines and a stressful new normal at home?

While childcare providers and early learning teachers are trained to foster the social and emotional development of young children, parents are feeling ill-equipped as their stand-in. But that doesn’t mean you can’t help ensure your child is growing and thriving. In fact, the most common factor among resilient children is having at least one stable and committed relationship with a supportive parent, caregiver, or another adult. As simple as it may sound, storytime with your child can help deepen your bond while building their resilience, confidence, and problem-solving skills along the way.

The Power of a Great Story

Stories and literature have long been used to help children develop perspective-taking, critical thinking, problem-solving and self-reflection. These skills are all elements of resilience, the ability to adapt well to adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress. One study of a school-based early learning program for resilience showed that stories told in all kinds of ways can be used to help children understand and express feelings, build relationships, solve problems and make healthy choices. There are many ways to tell a story with your child, including using books, puppets, and role-plays. Even music, artwork, or movement can be used to express emotions and inspire you and your child to create stories of your own. The most powerful stories often feature a central conflict or challenge that must be overcome, which can help children learn to deal with adversity in real life.

Reading aloud is an effective strategy for helping children expand their understanding of feelings, also known as emotional intelligence. Like teachers, parents can use a story to introduce new emotional vocabulary words, like “brave,” “nervous” or “disappointed.” Then, follow-up activities and discussions can help them “see” the new word in action. Parents can model how things like posture, breathing, heart rate and energy level can be clues to decipher how someone is feeling. Before you know it, you might all be feeling better equipped to adapt to these new and uncertain times.

How to Get Started with Stories

 

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Whether you’re doing the reading yourself or tapping a family member or celebrity friend, there are many resources to make your storytime even more purposeful and powerful.

Check out these curated lists of books with helpful teaching themes.

Find story ideas plus discussion topics and activities.

  • Scholastic resource Stories that Teach Life Lessons for selecting stories, setting them up, asking all the right questions and following up with fun, expressive activities like dramatic play and art.
  • Wide Open School has a number of resources ranging from videos to guide mindfulness practices to books to read and topics for discussion with little ones to support their emotional wellbeing.

Join fun read-alouds with celebrities during COVID-19.

More Resources on How to Support Your Child


This is article is a part of IAM Lab’s regularly updated COVID-19 NeuroArts Field Guide. Be sure to check the Guide for the latest, evidence-based tips on how the arts can support our wellbeing during the pandemic.

We would also like to hear from you: Are you, your loved ones or colleagues dealing with specific issues and want to learn more about art-based solutions?  Are you already using the arts to help you cope?   

Please share your thoughts, ideas and concerns with us at covid19arts@artsandmindlab.org.  Be well and stay safe.

Lead Image: Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels

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