There are lots of reasons to share stories, songs and rhymes with children. It's easy to assume that the importance of doing these activities with children lies in the development of language and literacy. After all, these rich language experiences expose children to new words in a fun and playful way. Although language learning is an important reason to share stories, songs and rhymes, there's another significant benefit to sharing them with children – the chance for a cuddle and the opportunity to develop our relationships.
Relationships are at the core of all learning and babies are born looking to make emotional connections with others. The world can be big, noisy and intimidating. Babies and children need loving adults who can help them make sense of what they're experiencing by providing consistent, loving interactions that are tuned in to baby's needs and emotional state. If children don't feel loved, safe and secure, then it's harder for them to learn and engage with the world around them.
Sharing a story, song or rhyme is a great way to connect emotionally and get to know each other. In these moments, babies, children and adults experience so much together: cuddles, shared eye contact, laughter and tuned in interactions. The cuddles, tickles and bouncing provide a physical closeness which prompts the body to releases oxytocin, a hormone that helps us feel even more connected. Sharing eye contact or a loving gaze has the similar effect of enhancing intimacy. These special moments can help us build our relationships and learn what makes each other laugh, or what we like and dislike. If we tune in carefully, we begin to understand how the other person views and experiences the world.
You're never too young to enjoy a story, song or rhyme. Even before babies and children can talk, read and sing, they're communicating and engaging with these experiences. These moments will stay with a child for life. Not just forming a solid base for language and literacy development, but providing the vital foundation of loving relationships.