Pūrākau pānui pukapuka/books & storytelling
play an important role in kindergarten.
People always say that “it’s important to read to kids”, but there are so many more layers to it that just telling them a story.
For our youngest learners, a book is something that, more often than not, we read to them.
It’s so important for tamariki to develop good listening skills that will help them throughout their lives. A good story can play a vital role in the building of this skill, connecting to cognitive, social, physical and emotional development.
At the most basic level, children benefit from hearing well, understanding and processing those sounds into something they understand. (This also impacts on developing speed and language skills in the longer term.)
Reading to tamariki and telling them stories is a great way to encourage active listening, support cognitive development, and improve language skills and vocabulary.
A story will often teach tamariki new words or present new ideas. Just exposure to these words helps to construct fresh pathways in the brain – that’s before engaging their imagination, stimulating creativity and sparking curiosity.
In short, stories read to them help young children to construct thought processes, from hearing sounds to understanding, remembering, and using imagination.
Beyond the pages themselves…
However, it’s not just the story itself that does this, but the talk and discussion around the story, before, during and after – whether that’s with their kaiako or each other.
For our youngest learners, books provide insights into the world around them, other experiences and different perspectives. And being able to process and discuss these is so incredibly valuable in their growth.
Connecting the child to the story adds extra depth.
“Has anyone felt like that?”, “Who has seen a monkey?”,
“Would you like to live in a castle?”, “What do you think is going to happen next?”
Language acquisition is also a significant benefit from being read to. Recent studies have also suggested that this also stimulates the areas of the brain associated with visual imagery.
Adults frequently use a familiar set of words, over and over, while other people may use different words or ways of saying things – and this variety of expression all expands the number of words a child can understand.
There’s nothing like a good read.
It’s a tale of growth and development.
But really, any time a child is hearing language and making a connection with whoever’s reading to them, or if they’re reading themselves, it is incredibly worthwhile.
Beyond this, is developing empathy. Putting yourself in a different situation is a safe way to experience different emotions or reactions and provide the opportunity to talk about these things.
Understanding different situations, cultures or language, and then sharing and remembering their experience of these can be very impactful.
There are many Pūrākau/Māori stories that form an important part of our culture – such as the tale of Maui netting the sun – that add an awareness of te reo Māori and our commitment to biculturalism.
Putting the story itself to one side, If a child is being read to, there’s also a sense of being together, being close and secure, which can be massively reassuring for our youngest learners. Sitting on a couch with kaiako, clustering around with other tamariki, or taking a place on the mat can all bolster being confident and belonging.
Just as valuably, holding a book and reading by themselves activates many motor skills (including learning simple tasks like turning the pages) but can also provide a ‘quiet time’ where the tamariki entertain themselves with something they love to do.
Being able to sit still and concentrate for the duration of a story is another skill-building aspect that’s worthy of mention. Attention span and increasing their memory-retention skills are further benefits associated with this.
All in all, there’s nothing like a good story.