With summer approaching, parents might be scratching their heads over ways to connect with their kids – ways that don’t involve a connection to wifi.
For families looking to unplug and unwind, Jim and Charlie Shepard, a grandfather and grandson duo and authors of the book, Flight Checks, suggest that parents tell stories with their kids. “Storytelling can be an enriching venture for a family, especially one with children in the impressionable age of 11 or younger,” explains Jim. “This is the age where everything is possible, and with some stimulation, stories can reveal wonderful sweeps of imagination.”
Storytelling can also offer deep moments of intimacy where families learn from each other. “It is an opportunity for parents and children to create something together,” Jim says. “While creating the story, children and parents act together as peers, developing a warm feeling of partnership that blots out the age difference.”
Tech-savvy kids might even surprise their parents with just how much they love storytelling. “Hopefully, like me, you will be astounded to find that children enjoy these story creation sessions more than TV or video games,” Jim shares. “And that makes your time spent together so much more rewarding.”
So how can parents make storytelling a habit in their home? Here are 5 tips from Jim and Charlie:
Families don’t need to write The Great Canadian Novel right out of the gate. “Start off with a short story that must be completed in 5 minutes,” advises Jim.
All stories should center around a character, and by asking for input, your child will feel included in the storytelling process. Once your family has a character in mind, ask for a description. Is your character thoughtful? Brave? Ambitious?
Use your imagination: Does your character traverse the Zambezi River, the Arctic, the desert, or the jungle? Also, let your child place their characters in familiar situations that reflect their experiences and challenges. “With a little prompting, you will be amazed by the magic in the imagination of children,” says Jim.
Parents should start off with shorter sessions to avoid overwhelming their kids. Once your kids become more invested and more involved with the stories, parents can hold longer sessions, from 10 minutes to 15 minutes, and then 20 minutes.
Compiling your story and making a book is another great way for families to bond. And even if it’s never published, the book will make a great keepsake full of memories for your family!