What Happens When You Share Stories With A Young Child?
Something clicked for me when I heard it explained like this;
We used to think that the brain developed to a certain place at which point we could start to use
language. Now we understand that is through language that the brain develops.
Each time a very young child is engaged with through word or gesture, signals are fired and neural
pathways are created and strengthened which over time literally constructs the physical brain. This
isn’t metaphor, stories build young brains!
And we know now that this language development starts as soon as hearing starts, at about 22
weeks inside the womb. It’s never too early to start sharing stories, cool eh?
So that’s the science and what about all the other good stuff? Like the role that stories play in
opening up new worlds and landscapes as well as offering different perspectives on familiar ones.
Stories offer us safe places to rehearse life and try out multiple ways of navigating our complex
society. When we share stories with children it builds their ability to empathise, as BBC’s Alex
Winter says, children who regularly hear stories…
“…find it easier to understand other people – they show more empathy and have better
developed theory of mind (the ability to understand that other people have different
thoughts and feelings to us, which is essential for understanding and predicting other
people’s thoughts and behaviour).”
And they don’t have to be fairy tales or charmingly goofy toothed monster rambles, they don’t even
have to be good. Sharing your mornings commute is sharing a part of you. The stories of our
heritage and culture, our friends and family yarns, these are the golden nuggets we can pass on and
all work to build a strong and colourful imagination. As we say at The Village, everyone has stories to
tell and we are all worthy of being heard.
Most importantly when I ask the parents of young children that I work with what they hope to get
out of story sessions they say, “quality time with my child.” Stories bring us together.