Children love to tell tales. The elders love it more. I realised this only after I became a parent. Being a storyteller was the best disguise I could wear to enjoy my daughter’s total adulation for me. The sparkle in her eye, the mirth of her laughter was like an instant boost for my restless soul. Being in a 24X7 kind of job, I realised I was missing talking to my daughter. So I worked out lot of ways in which I could talk more to her while she was doing her routine chores like taking bath, getting dressed, eating food or even waiting at the bus-stop. Here are 10 different Ways to Making Parenting Memorable using Stories.
1. The traditional way for using stories- At Bed Time. Telling stories at bed time when the baby is about to go to sleep is the best way a parent can connect with the baby as young as an infant and as old as a teenager. You can tell them a story which you remember or you can also read it from a story book. The only thing to keep in mind is the kind of story must be appropriate to the child’s age and interests. The story will get carried over to their dreams. Till the time I wasn’t a parent I could not imagine of any other way of story telling. But, with time I had come up with nearly 10 different Ways to Making Parenting Memorable using Stories.
2. Read Aloud stories with special sound effects- Play School Preparation. Once the toddlers start going to the play school/nurseries, they are fascinated with the visuals in the story books, esp. if it is one with those pop-up pictures or touch and feel ones. They love to listen to these stories where mommy roars like a lion and croaks like a frog and meows like a kitty. Homework and school studies are not an easy task when your child happens to be a fussy toddler who can’t sit at one place for more than a minute. And you actually don’t want them glued to the cartoons so early in their life. This is when you have to make the simple activities like naming body parts, learning about tooth care and tying a shoe lace interesting. That’s when you will need 10 different Ways to Making Parenting Memorable using Stories. Remember to choose stories with repetitive sound words and/or actions at this stage.
3. See/Read and Cut ‘n’ Paste Pictures- During Festivals. You will find the festivals are the right time to introduce children to the folklore and Indian epics: Ramayana and Mahabharata. Newspapers are full of images of gods/ goddesses and other mythological characters during the festivals. Pick up an empty scrap book, pictures from some newspapers & magazines, scissors and glue. Tell the children the relevance of the festival through the newspaper/magazine pictures. Then encourage them to recreate graffiti with their pictures. It will be exciting for the young ones to recreate the story as well as understand the relevance of rituals/ customs through the stories themselves. You can use Amar Chitra Katha comics or animated films. Some easy-to-understand and tell book you can use are: Tales from Mahabharat by Sudha Murty and Devlok by Devdutt Patnaik.one of my favorite way out of 10 different Ways to Making Parenting Memorable using Stories.
4. Paint The Walls- While Massage/Bathing/ Getting Dressed. Some kids are very restless while massage/ bath/ getting dressed. Choose a deserted corner on the walls of the rooms you use for the baby’s massage/ other activities. Draw/paint those straw characters on these walls. You can even paste stickers, if you are not good at drawing, say of the mermaid and the fishes in the bathroom and use them to tell a new story every day, such as: Finding Nemo, The little Mermaid, The Three Fishes. Similarly, in their bedroom, you can draw a Forest scene as a backdrop with some popular wild animals in each corner. Use it while you get them dressed. For First time parents, single moms/dads, this is one of the best use of stories and how it makes those mundane jobs interesting and memorable. You could tell a story while making their hair, putting on shoes and socks and things like that.
5. Cook up a story- While you prepare the Meal. During lazy Sundays or long weekend nights, make the dining table your story board. That way you ensure that the child eats what you cooked up. Out of the 10 different Ways to Making Parenting Memorable using Stories, this one’s got another benefit: you are not running behind them to make them eat. You can use some vegetables and make a Smiley Roti or a Sunshine Sandwich or Friendly Cutlets. Some traditional Indian dishes such as Dal Pitthi (small wheat flour dumplings of different shapes and sizes boiled in black lentils), Dal Bagiya (Indian momos made up of rice/jowar flour and chana dal fillings)/ are very helpful.
6. Role Playing- To make the Textbooks Interesting. Children of the age group of 6 years and above love to imitate their elders. They playgames where they take turns to become the teachers, mothers or other elders. My daughter and her friends started behaving like the characters for some time. They made masks which looked like those characters and copied their voices too. I realised this was an interesting way to make them read their language text books and learn the language effortlessly. Once they liked the story, we started repeating the exact sentences while waiting for the school bus in the morning. It worked the best with those animal fables and folktales of Akbar- Birbal and Hodja Nasruddin stories. All those parents who are worried about stories being all fun and no studies, would love this method out of the 10 different Ways to Making Parenting Memorable using Stories. This way children end up making learning a fun-filled experience.
7. Writing Diaries- While Travelling. Life in the armed forces means frequent long journeys are inescapable. Sitting at one place during long road trips or train journeys becomes boring or monotonous for the children of the age-group 3-6.I tried to figure out how to keep her engaged till one day she saw her friend reading the book: The Diary of a Wimpy Kid and gradually got interested to write down her experiences. She was not restless anymore during long journeys. It was fun to scribble/record and tell her travel stories. This way she also kept track of what all places she had visited and shared it with her cousins. This method is my daughter’s personal favourite out of the 10 different Ways to Making Parenting Memorable using Stories.
8. Dance, Mimes, Movies- On Lazy Weekends. Once in a while, you are very tired to read/enact the story and want to take a backseat but your child is very keen on listening to a story. And most importantly, with YOU. I keep my store of CDs of old TV serials (Malgudi Days, Tenali Raman, Adventures of Robin Hood, Jungle Book, Alice in Wonderland), songs (Lakdi ki Kathi, Mere Paas Aao, Do Re Mi) and animations (Duck Tales, Tales Spin, Richie Rich). Before the story starts I try and tell my daughter about the main characters, how I came across them and what I like about them. And after the movie ends, I generally ask her what she liked the best and what she thought could be changed in the movie. This way the child also gets connected to the story and you get to ensure that it is not just a passive viewing going on.
9. Movie Making- To make those long summer mornings/monsoon evenings interesting. It’s difficult to keep children indoors during rainy season and/or sunny summer mornings. If you want to avoid them watching too much of TV or video games, try moving them to movie making. Kids of all age-groups love to see themselves on screen. You can motivate them to make short clippings of anything, may be the house, the flowers in the garden, or may be a dance performance. They will start spinning stories using their toys, pictures and so on. This will ensure they don’t go out of the house and don’t mess it up too.
10. Shadow/Finger Puppets- At Birthday Parties. Sometimes arranging birthday parties is a tiring affair with children ending up blowing all balloons, eating junk food, ripping apart their return gifts and running back home. Encourage your child to make it a little more meaningful. You can show his/her friends a story using puppets of different types, such as real figures, shadow puppets, finger puppets or moving puppets. Children can also be motivated to help you make the Puppet theatre and the puppets with simple household items. You can arrange some games revolving around the puppet show and give some simple puppets as gifts to them.
As a parent stories come very handy when we try to come closer to and impress our children and their friends. Story telling need not be an elaborate, isolated or an exclusive affair. Try these 10 different Ways to Making Parenting Memorable using Stories and see how a simple story book or a finger puppet and your child’s cozy bed, bathroom, car seats or even the bus stop make the child’s growing up interesting.
Come unleash the storyteller inside you…..