Research finds storytelling key to children's development

Research finds storytelling key to children's development

New research by the Institute for Social & Economic Research has revealed daily storytime sessions with pre-school children significantly improves their cognitive skills and reduces their socioemotional difficulties by the age of five.

The research studied 15,000 children at ages three and five and analysed the impact that the home environment had on their development at this stage. Researcher Yvonne Kelly said: “We wanted to see what elements of home learning and the macro climate at home help to explain the gap between the development of the poorest children and the richest children.”

Researchers gathered data on a range of issues in the home environment, from how noisy and tidy it was to the carer’s teaching and disciplining strategies. When all the data was analysed, Kelly said: “We found that the strongest projector of childhood development, including their socioemotional development and cognitive skills, was reading to children on a daily basis. It is one of the strongest predictors of these outcomes, even when everything else is taken into consideration.”

The report suggested: “If half or all of the 5-year-old children who were read to less than daily were instead read to on a daily basis there would be corresponding 10% and 20% reductions in the proportion of 5 year olds with socioemotional difficulties.”

Kelly added: “There is something about the strongly transactional element of storytelling that makes it important; adult and child snuggle up close, think about the pictures together and what might happen next. It also provides one-on-one, intimate time between carer and child.”