**This is a guest post, written by Jenny Holt.
When data is shared through a story, you are 22 times more likely to recall the information. Storytelling has the power to capture our attention and most importantly, build confidence — even at a young age. If a child is naturally shy or soft-spoken, storytelling might be the key to helping them discover their voice. In the same way you encourage them to watch educational programming and help them pick out books at the library, it’s never too early to teach children how to share and listen to stories.
Learning More About The World
Shyness often happens when a child feels unsure of themselves in the world. When your view is limited and your voice is small, you don’t know how or where you fit, and it’s easier to retreat into yourself. For most children, listening to books read aloud is the first foray into the outside world. Hearing stories about other people and places allows young minds to start developing new ideas. There is no limit to the kinds of stories you can share with children to help them grow. Taking time to flex the imagination is critical for youth development, particularly for shy or introverted personality types. These children need an outlet in which to share their experiences. The structure of storytelling can provide them that safe space to ask questions and learn more about how the world operates.
Strengthening Early Vocabulary
From infancy, children are listening to the world around them and mimicking the sounds they hear. All children develop at their own pace, but there are steps parents can take to ensure that children have a strong working vocabulary before they even step foot in a school. From flash cards to memory games, there are many tools available to improve word use, though storytelling might be the most critical. When children learn to tell and listen to stories, they make fresh connections between words and phrases in their minds. This kind of critical thinking gives them the confidence to problem solve on their own. Any child who can clearly articulate their needs, wants and frustrations is better equipped to communicate and process through their emotions, which helps them feel in control and more confident.
Stories Encourage Empathy Development
The key to great storytelling is in the details. Character description and arc structure also help flesh out ideas and picture the story’s development.When children hear stories about people, places and cultures unlike their own, they begin to imagine what life is like for others. This leads to an ability to imagine possibilities outside their own experiences, which is critical to understanding empathy. Children are naturally self-centered, but learning to feel and think for another can help them grow in confidence of their place in the world. This intrinsic skill will help them succeed in their careers and relationships.
Taking the time to teach children how to share their thoughts through stories will set them up well to learn throughout their lives. Learning how to listen well expands a child’s worldview and encourages them to have the confidence to step into their place in the world.