Build Your Child’s Social Skills and Confidence with Storytelling
By Hearing First Team April 24, 2018
Children with hearing loss are at risk for missing subtle conversational cues and questions that are fundamental to understanding and sharing their own story. Learn how storytelling lays the foundation for future social relationships, and read ideas for building your child’s aptitude and confidence for storytelling over time.
Your child has a unique story to tell and a lifetime of experience to share. Our stories are the essence of what connects us with others. It’s who we are. Starting from day one, babies begin developing a sense of self by listening to and interacting with their family members, community and surroundings. Children who are deaf or hard of hearing are at risk for missing subtle conversational cues and questions that are fundamental to understanding and sharing their own story. If your child has a hearing loss, it’s important to have conversations and intentionally provide them with the language to build and tell their own stories. This skill develops early and lays the foundation for your child to develop social relationships, and is instrumental over time in helping them to:
- Establish a sense of self from day one
- Build spoken language skills to share about themselves
- Learn and expand vocabulary unique to your family and culture
- Hear and share stories from one generation to the next
- Expand stories to include thoughts and preferences
- Develop strong conversational skills
- Know how to ask appropriate questions of others
- Recognize that others have stories different from our own
- Build a strong foundation for literacy
When Does the Story Start and How Does It Grow?
Your baby’s story actually starts before they are born. They can hear you talking, listen to the music you are playing in the car or even hear the waves of the ocean when you’re at the beach. Once born, they’re able to fully experience the world. If your baby is wearing their hearing technology at least 10 hours per day, they have the best possible access to begin learning their story by hearing you talk about them, family members, where they live and what is happening during their routines. Here are some ideas for building your child’s skills and confidence for storytelling over time:
Have Conversations About Your Baby’s Life in Real Time
Your baby will need to consistently hear the words and phrases that make up their story, even before they begin talking. This is particularly important if your baby has been diagnosed with hearing loss, and you’ll want to make sure their brains have multiple opportunities to hear this important information. Remember to describe your own actions and thoughts so your baby can learn your perspective and hear vocabulary about thinking and feeling. That means, from day one, you can start having conversations about all of the things you and your baby experience together every day.
Pictures Say 1000+ Words - Create Your Baby's Story Book
Make a photo album with pictures of your baby, family, pets, favorite places and activities. If your album is only six pages, you can change photos over time to build the story. Even very young babies benefit from sitting with you, sharing a book and listening to you tell their story. Your baby’s brain is growing with every word and conversation you have together so there is no limit to the language you can share just by looking through a photo book about them. In conversations about the book, take turns and allow your baby to vocalize, point, comment and respond. This serve and return interaction will establish your baby’s role as a conversation partner in your ongoing dialog.
Keep the Story Growing with Your Child
As your child grows and progresses from first words to phrases, sentences, and paragraphs, they can start expanding their own personal narrative. Remember, you’ve been building their language brains from day one, and they’ll continue to use and build on that very language to tell their own story to talk about themselves, their family, personal preferences and past events. You can continue to support their growing story in the following ways:
- Read books together, ask open-ended questions and think aloud about characters and events in the story. “I wonder what the bear has at his house?”
- Relate events and characters from books to your child’s own life.
- Use an experience book to describe, illustrate and write about events and experiences. In the experience book, you and your child can discuss important personal narrative elements about familiar events including who, what, where, when and what happened.
- Expand and extend your child’s comments to build on their statements and to build on their vocabulary.
- Model and encourage conversations and asking questions of family members, friends and peers about their story.
The discussions you have about books, experiences and conversations with others will provide the foundation from which your child will share their own story and have healthy conversations with everyone in their lives.
It’s never too early to help your child learn the language that will help them to build their own stories. Start the story today and keep it going for a lifetime!
Share Your Own Story
It’s important to know that you’re not alone on the LSL journey and there are parents out there who’ve gone through similar experiences. Join the Family Support Community and connect with other families who are powering potential for their child with hearing loss to learn to listen and talk!