15 Minutes of Family Fun – Family stories
Date posted: January 20, 2014
“Family stories can be told nearly anywhere. They cost us only our time, our memories, our creativity. They can inspire us, protect us, and bind us to others. So be generous with your stories, and be generous in your stories. Remember that your children may have them for a lifetime.” – Elaine Reese
Telling children family stories has many of the same benefits as reading to them – and more. In addition to developing listening, speaking, memory and conversation skills, family stories help children establish an understanding that they have an identity as part of a family. And, this can contribute to higher self esteem, better resilience, lower levels of anxiety, fewer behavioural problems, and better chances to cope with difficulties.
It’s not the content of family stories that’s most important, since every family’s story is different. But, the process of communicating information from generation to generation is an indicator that families are cohesive, that family members communicate with each other, and that parents think this is important information to share.
The Stories That Bind Us, an article by Bruce Feiler, details some of the research that reveals power of family stories.
Marshall P. Duke, a researcher in family stories, lists the twenty questions in the Do You Know Scale that were used to measure children’s knowledge of family history. These questions can be used as ideas for telling children stories that are not part of their direct experience.
When the story is about an experience that the children were part of, the storytelling can become even more interactive. Remember when …? is an activity for sharing family memories for ages 2 and older. It can be a time for everyone to participate, adding details and their perspective to a shared family story. Accuracy isn’t critical; in fact, disagreements can become part of the family narrative. Why not try it at dinner tonight?
For details and hints for success, click here.
To learn more about family storytelling, read Tell Me a Story: sharing stories to enrich your child’s world by Elaine Reese (2013). This book explains how family storytelling is an important way to support children’s language, emotional development, coping skills, self-concept, and sense of belonging. Based on longitudinal research, this book offers parents practical tips that work at different ages, from toddlers to teens, to maximize the benefits of oral communication around personal experiences and family history. To borrow this book, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Family Literacy Day is celebrated on January 27th each year. This year’s theme is 15 Minutes of Fun!