It’s me, Deanna, the teacher with 20+ years experience who, like you, is practicing social distancing at home with my child. I have decided to use my training and experience to develop a daily list of activities for you to do at home with your kids.
Today I want to focus on one of the most important things we can do with our kids, sharing stories with them. You probably already do some of what I am going to suggest, but it doesn’t hurt for all of us to be reminded about the importance of stories in our life.
Read to Your Child
Reading to your child is one of the most important things we can do. The benefits of reading are well documented. Even though I teach pre-teens and teens, I still read out loud to them on a regular basis. And they love it.
So take some time during this social distancing to read to your kids. No matter how old they are. Gather together once a day and read from your favourite books. They could be the picture books you read to them when they were little or grab a classic you want them to love off the shelf and read a chapter a day.
Try and make it fun. Use voices. Insert some gestures. Try some call and response. And if you can’t do that, because it isn’t who you are, above all else remember that a child learns to love reading in the laps of their parents.
Have Your Child Read to You
One of the things that is truly magical is hearing a child read. Have them grab a book and read to you while you do chores around the house. If could be anything. A joke book, a book full of facts about their favourite animal or a novel. Let them read. If they hit words that they are having trouble pronouncing, help them learn to say them. It might help make lunch go faster and your child is practicing their language skills.
This would also be a good time to fire up the video calling software on your phone or tablet and have your child read to a family member or friend. Grandparents would LOVE this activity, so leverage it to get a bit of free time for you. Or have the grandparents read to them via video chat.
Share Your Stories
As you go about your day, tell stories that are related to what you are doing. If you are making cookies using the same recipe your mother used to use, share the stories that come from those cookies. Were the cookies so good that you had to take extra in your lunch because your friends would beg you to share? As you eat ice cream, share the story of your aunt who used to keep gourmet french vanilla for her cat. These are your stories. Pass them onto your children. And encourage them to pass theirs on to you. No matter how long or off topic they are.
Create Your Own Stories
A great way to incorporate storytelling into your routine is to make it part of your daily routine. So it isn’t just putting laundry in the washing machine, it’s using cloth missiles to take on the washing beast. I have done this with my own son, and even though he is eleven, he still enjoys participating in these mini-adventures. It can make chores fun and you are encouraging your child to develop their creativity. These may become the stories that they pass on to their children.
There is a whole world of audiobooks out there. They can be purchased from your favourite online store or you can check your local library website to learn how to download one from them. Also check on YouTube, as some people have read their favourite books aloud using that platform.
Podcasts are a family favourite for us, giving us hours of entertainment. You can find a podcast ap in the Play or App Store (although one comes already loaded on an iPad). You can also play them on your web browser by going to the podcast’s webpage. Why not make some coco and listen to one of the storytelling podcasts out there? Some of our favourites are listed below:
- Myths and Legends – a great podcast by Jason Weiser that is appropriate for the whole family. Wiser has a great, informal storytelling style that he uses to look at the myths and legends of the world.
- Fictional – also from Jason Weiser, this podcast retells the classics of Western literature. This one would be better for tweens and up, but you know your kids best.
- Levar Burton Reads – the title says is all. Levar Burton reads short stories. It is like an updated Reading Rainbow. Note: this is for tweens up.
- The Two Princes – a fantasy adventure for the whole family.
- Stories Podcast – framed as a bedtime podcast, it retells classic stories, fairy tales and even some original stories.
- Alien Adventures of Finn Caspian – the story of an 8 year-old boy’s adventures in space.
Author and Celebrity Readings
One of the things that has been absolutely amazing through this period of social distancing is that so many people are stepping up to offer their talents. Among those are children’s and YA authors. Many of them are turning to social media and the web to share readings of their books. Celebrities are also doing read alouds. Some of the ones I want to highlight are:
- Mo Willems – the award winning author and illustrator is hosting a daily doodling session for kids. Each day, he includes instructions for people to download.
- Josh Gad – The star of Frozen and Beauty and the Beast is reading a story a day on Twitter.
- Neil Gaiman – the author reads all of his book Coraline on his website.
TV & Film
I also want to put a plug in for these. These can be scary times for kids, so some time spent with a familiar media property can make them feel better.
Or sit with them and introduce them to one of your favourites from your childhood. Give them the stories that comforted you.