A structured bedtime routine is essential for getting any child to sleep through the night. It also lays the foundations of good sleep hygiene for life. Many people’s favourite childhood bedtime memories relate to enjoying a story before being tucked in for the night. And, far from simply being another tedious tick box parenting task, storytelling is vital to build parent-child bonds and is invaluable for a child’s development.
The benefits of sleep are pretty widely recognised – stress reduction, allowing our bodies time to rest and repair overnight, supporting growth and development; the list goes on. The benefits of storytelling, however, are commonly overlooked. In fact, only 51 percent of parents read to their pre-school children on a daily basis, with this undoubtedly reducing as children get older and are more able to read for themselves.
Parents might skip the storytelling session due to the very real struggle to find time or energy at the end of the day, often replacing it with TV or screen time. But it’s so key to nurturing that all-important connection ahead of the night time of separation, it invariably makes the bedtime routine easier and calmer, and it has a wealth of educational and developmental benefits too.
“Storytelling not only promotes language skills, improves logic and boosts creativity, but perfecting bedtime and nailing that bedtime story will mean a higher quality of sleep for both you and your children.” Says Tobin James, Tempur UK Managing Director.
In support of World Book Day on 7th March, we teamed up with premium mattress brand Tempur to highlight the value of storytelling before bed.
1. Encourages development of imagination
Reading fictional stories to children encourages them to use their imagination. A healthy imagination is the key to a child’s development of critical thinking skills and creative problem-solving skills. Think of it as a muscle – the more it’s exercised, the stronger it will become.
2. Cultivates a deeper understanding of the world
Storytelling is fun! It enables anyone to experience different cultures and traditions. For children this is even more impactful – they learn new information about the world without even realising. And, as a result, develop greater empathy.
3. Strengthens bonds between parent and child
Reading to your child is crucial quality time for both you and them, which helps to foster connection and positive relationships.
4. Increases communication and social skills
Reading bedtime stories helps children develop communication skills immensely. They ask questions about the story whilst also learning new vocabulary and improving their ability to focus. Socially, children learn to listen to others through storytelling and begin to understand that not everyone interprets things the same way.
5. Reinforces a positive habit
Reading to children when they’re young means they’re more likely to continue reading for pleasure as they grow into adulthood. Enjoying and being able to learn from books is a positive habit at any age.
For those wondering how to craft the perfect bedtime story, here are some tips:
• Let your imagination run wild, but remember the aim is to help your child sleep so it’s a good idea to save the adventure stories for daytime and opt for a more peaceful, slumber-inducing saga…
• Ensure it’s a learning experience – aim to teach your child a lesson or moral through the story.
• Get your child involved, include them in the story to make it personal and help them relate and engage. Perhaps even ask for their input and adapt the story accordingly so that they too can begin to understand the enjoyment of storytelling.
• Leave the story open ended. This will encourage them to imagine what happens next as well as giving you time to think up the next instalment!