From birth – even though your baby will not understand what you are saying, they can still benefit from hearing speech (particularly your voice) and intonation.
What your child will do
Stories and rhymes classes are usually quite informal and laid-back sessions, based around a fun and entertaining mix of songs, rhymes and movement. They work by introducing your baby to the world of books and stories in a social environment. Classes normally take place in a nursery, children’s centre or library setting. Parents and their children will sit in an open group or circle format whilst the storyteller leader manages the session.
Classes typically open with a song welcoming all the children to the group before the leader begins telling a series of stories and rhymes to the children. Props and participation are actively encouraged and the leader may include actions for a rhyme or story. You and your baby will be encouraged to sing along with the rhymes and there may be musical instruments and toys for your baby to play with during the session.
How will your baby benefit
With storytelling, very young babies will not be able to follow the thread of the story or rhyme being told, but they can start to pick up on the association between pictures and actions and their descriptive words. Storytelling is great for boosting your baby’s ability to communicate and build their understanding of how speech is used. As your baby hears the stories and rhymes being told – and acted out – it helps to reinforce basic sounds, patterns and rhythms that can be picked up.
Hearing stories and rhymes regularly from a young age can help nurture your baby’s skills in listening and remembering. Changing voices for the various characters in a story also introduces the idea of basic conversation and communication.
Socially, your baby will benefit by observing other babies and interacting with them as and when the class session allows. Cognitive development is also benefited as your baby starts to understand the wider world around him.
You will also gain from increased bonding time with your baby. You can take key learning points from a stories and rhymes class to enjoy at home. Give your baby a good vantage point if reading from a book so that he can share in the story and follow you. Include lots of cuddles whilst speaking and your baby will feel more relaxed and secure.
Free! Visit your local library or Children’s Centre for information on Bookstart Storytime and Rhymetime activities and national initiatives. This is also a great activity to do at home using either your imagination or a favourite book.