How Stories Can Prepare Children for Life

Image via Flickr  Mankind has always been obsessed with storytelling, since the most distant days of prehistory when our ancestors sat around roaring bonfires telling the tales of mythical figures and their deeds.  Nothing has changed in this regard today, and fictional entertainment is as popular as ever, whether in the form of books, or TV shows and films.  One of the areas where stories continue to have the most impact, however, is in delighting and educating our children. Fables and fairytales seem uniquely able to inspire and enlighten kids, where dry lectures would put them to sleep.  Why is that the case? Let’s take a look.   Stories exist in a world of adventure   The normal world is often reasonably boring for grownups, never mind for children who’re used to living in a world of adventure and make-believe, where heroes and villains and strange creatures lurk in every corner and great quests define the fate of the world.  Stories are able to place often mundane concepts and lessons into fantastic settings and so make them far more interesting and exciting. That, of course, means that a child is far more likely to absorb the fundamental messages.   Stories make things less frightening  Real-world concepts and their implications are often scary, or at least daunting. Trying to teach a child about the dynamics of heroes and villains by talking about contemporary terrorist atrocities is likely to give them nightmares.  When placed in a fantasy setting, however, many of these concepts stop being so frightening. They’re now removed from our day-to-day lives by a degree of separation, and there are always wise kings or bold heroes to step up and do battle when needed.   Stories can simplify complicated concepts  In day-to-day life, almost everything has layers of complexity which can be utterly baffling if we’re not prepared for them. Few adults could claim to have a good working knowledge of how the various financial institutions operate, even the activities of benign companies such as best.creditcard. So how can children be expected to unravel these arcane mysteries?  Addressing big concepts in a fantasy setting allows for these ideas to be boiled down and simplified to their core components, while also positioning them against a narrative backdrop which serves to enhance understanding, rather than diminish it.  There’s a reason why metaphors are such commonly used teaching mechanisms.  Stories stick in a child’s memory  A dry lecture about something complicated like budgeting or arithmetic is likely to interest a child about as much as watching paint dry, and will probably fly out of their head as soon as they’re free to run off and imagine themselves fighting a dragon or saving a princess.  Stories with engaging characters and plots can carry these same morals, but present them to a child in a coating of fun and adventure. This, of course, means that the child is more likely to remember the tale. Even if they’re not constantly reflecting on the lesson of the story, it’ll be working in the back of their mind. - giant storybook image

Image via Flickr

Mankind has always been obsessed with storytelling, since the most distant days of prehistory when our ancestors sat around roaring bonfires telling the tales of mythical figures and their deeds.

Nothing has changed in this regard today, and fictional entertainment is as popular as ever, whether in the form of books, or TV shows and films.

One of the areas where stories continue to have the most impact, however, is in delighting and educating our children. Fables and fairytales seem uniquely able to inspire and enlighten kids, where dry lectures would put them to sleep.

Why is that the case? Let’s take a look.

Stories exist in a world of adventure

The normal world is often reasonably boring for grownups, never mind for children who’re used to living in a world of adventure and make-believe, where heroes and villains and strange creatures lurk in every corner and great quests define the fate of the world.

Stories are able to place often mundane concepts and lessons into fantastic settings and so make them far more interesting and exciting. That, of course, means that a child is far more likely to absorb the fundamental messages.

Stories make things less frightening

Real-world concepts and their implications are often scary, or at least daunting. Trying to teach a child about the dynamics of heroes and villains by talking about contemporary terrorist atrocities is likely to give them nightmares.

When placed in a fantasy setting, however, many of these concepts stop being so frightening. They’re now removed from our day-to-day lives by a degree of separation, and there are always wise kings or bold heroes to step up and do battle when needed.

Stories can simplify complicated concepts

In day-to-day life, almost everything has layers of complexity which can be utterly baffling if we’re not prepared for them. Few adults could claim to have a good working knowledge of how the various financial institutions operate, even the activities of benign companies such as best.creditcard. So how can children be expected to unravel these arcane mysteries?

Addressing big concepts in a fantasy setting allows for these ideas to be boiled down and simplified to their core components, while also positioning them against a narrative backdrop which serves to enhance understanding, rather than diminish it.

There’s a reason why metaphors are such commonly used teaching mechanisms.

Stories stick in a child’s memory

A dry lecture about something complicated like budgeting or arithmetic is likely to interest a child about as much as watching paint dry, and will probably fly out of their head as soon as they’re free to run off and imagine themselves fighting a dragon or saving a princess.

Stories with engaging characters and plots can carry these same morals, but present them to a child in a coating of fun and adventure. This, of course, means that the child is more likely to remember the tale. Even if they’re not constantly reflecting on the lesson of the story, it’ll be working in the back of their mind.

Leave a Reply