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STORYTELLING AND YOUR CHILD’S BRAIN

Updated: Mar 5, 2023


“But watch out! Be careful never to forget what you yourself have seen.

Do not let these memories escape from your mind as long as you live!

And be sure to pass them on to your children and grandchildren”.

Deuteronomy 4:9:


“Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and

their children to the next generation”. Joel 1:3:


When I was a little girl, I loved to hear my father tell me stories about his youthful days. Stories about his survival in the Biafran war (a civil war fought between Nigeria and the then Republic of Biafra between 6 July 1967 and 15 January 1970), his high school days in Calabar, Southern Coastal part of Nigeria, West Africa, his parent’s (my grandparents) expression of love to him, their business and career. Unfortunately, I never got to meet my grandparents, but they remained real to me because of the stories I was told about them and that kept me connected to them.


I remember my uncle Charles, who whenever he visited, told us a lot of

stories about our rich culture ranging from how we came about, how we got settled in the land we possess today and why we eat the food we eat and speak the language we speak. I recall meeting my husband to be then, and every time he visited our house, my father spent time sharing with him about our culture and where we came from.


I grew up with a rich knowledge of my culture and now I find myself thousands of miles away from home and yet, I have not lost memory of any of those. Sometimes, my husband and I just remember how my parents loved to share stories of their childhood days and how we all used to sit together and have great conversations. I must say that this has brought upon me a great sense of my identity, my root and my people and has added to our family bonding as we continually share with our children. Today we find ourselves in a social diverse environment, these stories give me and my family a strong sense of confidence as we are proud of our heritage.


Dear parent, how much time do you spend on telling stories to your children? Research has it that storytelling plays a vital role in your child’s overall development. It could be as simple as talking about your childhood days, your culture, your food, your childhood best friend, your most embarrassing day, a funny story about your day, your testimonies or even the day you got saved or baptized.


It is said that storytelling has lots of benefits to a child’s brain development and social

awareness. Here are some benefits:

  • It is a Teaching Tool: Storytelling can serve as a form of education used to teach children a lot of things ranging from values, to culture, to learning about their body parts, societal norms, and even their environment. Teaching them the what, why, when and how.

  • It Strengthens Family Relationship: When families spend time together telling stories, they are actually building family bond and strengthening their relationship with each other. Communication is one of the ways to improve relationships and storytelling is a great way to communicate with our children. Every child will always want to be in the company of a father or mother who is able to come down to their level and share relatable experiences with them.

  • It Instills Values: Parents can use stories to instill values in their children just as Jesus did with the parables in the Bible. As you tell them stories and emphasize the morals, they learn about the values they should have as they grow. That’s why you must carefully sample the kind of stories you tell your children per time and the values you want to teach them from it. Children are smart enough to start practicing whatever they learn almost immediately.

  • It Builds Listening Skill: Telling stories can be used to hold a child’s attention for long as they will engage with focus, concentration and sometimes with awe. Generally, younger children within a certain age range do not sustain long attention span because they easily get distracted. But, here’s the thing, as you tell them stories often and capture their minds with it, you are helping them improve their listening skill by increasing their attention span.

  • Storytelling Fosters a Child’s Imagination: When children listen to stories, they have the ability to build their own screen in their minds by adding pictures to the words they hear. This is a great way to exercise their imagination station as my kids call it, which eventually leads to another level of faith building. (Faith starts in your imagination, hope).

  • It Increases a Child’s Communication Skill and Expands their Vocabulary: Storytelling is a great way to communicate one’s thoughts, feelings and ideas. Children are able to learn how to communicate with others when they are regularly engaged with interactive storytelling. It also broadens their vocabulary as they pick new words from the stories they are told and most times out of curiosity, they learn what the words mean and that adds to their box of knowledge.

  • It Helps Sharpen a Child’s Memory: Storytelling is a great way to sharpen your child’s memory as they tend to remember a lot from the imagination they have created in their minds. The more children actively engage their imagination, the more chances they stand to have their memories sharpened.

  • It Improves Social Skills: When children listen to stories, it helps them build the social skill of taking turns in conversations and respecting others’ opinions as they learn to be more patient. When they listen to others speak, they engage in asking questions and also understand the importance of giving feedback.

  • It Builds Emotional Intelligence in Children: Through storytelling, children understand the emotions being expressed via the tone of voice or pitch of the speaker and also via their body or facial expressions as well as the words they say. Then, they can tell if a character is happy or sad.

  • It Builds Identity and Beliefs: In Joel 1:3, God was asking the parents to share stories with their children because that was intended to help them build their sense of identity and keep them rooted in their beliefs. When children understand who they are, they can stand out anywhere.

  • It Builds Cultural Awareness Listening to my parents and uncle share with us stories about our culture, has helped me even today to appreciate my culture, which includes food, artifacts, attires, the language we speak, and our music. This has also helped me appreciate other people’s culture too.

Conclusion

Isn’t it amazing that something many people consider as trivial has been discovered as a

powerful tool in the parenting journey? This is especially so because scripture endorses it as seen in Deuteronomy 4:9 and Joel 1:3. The art of storytelling is capable of having so much effect on your child’s growth and development. From the neurological, mental, emotional, societal and physical stand point, children gain more from storytelling than some other ‘serious’ steps parents take to ensure their children’s development.


The brain regions involved in discerning or imagining a person’s intentions or point of view gets activated whenever there is an interactive storytelling session. Storytelling allows children learn values through a fun filled way, and they hardly forget what they learn in this way. So, dear parent, having learnt this truth, what will stop you from applying this simple yet result-oriented strategy on your child? Increase the chances of having the best out of your child through storytelling.


Greatly loved,

Nene Oluwagbohun.



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Jessica Thomas
Jessica Thomas
Mar 01, 2023

This is awesome...This storytelling happens like every last week of the month in our home...my mom tells us how her growing up was like, my dad tells how how his school days was like, I even learnt from my dad never to judge someone just by looking at them. my dad once told us a story that happened years ago in the Yoruba land (more like a history), we even ended up watching the actual story of how it all happened after the storytelling 😅...I found out that my imagination of how it might have happened during the storytelling was almost same with what we watched.

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