Fairy tales don’t offer mere fun and excitement; they trigger your child’s imagination and foster her creativity. Read on to know more about the benefits of fairy tales for your little one.
By Dr Priscilla J S Selvaraj
Magnificent castles, charming princes, dainty princesses, little elves, wicked witches – that’s the fairy world for you! A world of fantasy that casts a spell on you! We all grew up on fairy tales and the memory lingers on even into adulthood. How can we ever forget Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty? So, what’s it about fairy tales that we find ourselves entranced by the magical world that they portray? And, is it just magnificence, charm and magic that fairy tales have to offer our children? Certainly not. They have a lot of benefits for them. Surprised? Don’t be. Even Albert Einstein believed in the benefits of fairy tales for children. He said, “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” Satisfied? When it comes from the great scientist himself, you should be. Well, the following pointers will give you more insight into this.
1. Foster imagination: The make-believe world of fairy tales nurtures the imagination of your little one. As the stories are far-removed from our daily lives, children are transformed to an altogether new setting. Their imagination runs wild and they fantasise about the dream world. Such nurturing of their imagination is essential to develop their creative skills.
2. Help relate to the abstract: Children always learn simple concepts better than complex ones. So too is it with concrete concepts than abstract ones. This is where fairy tales help. The world of fantasy that it leads the child into, makes her understand that which isn’t concrete – the abstract. This understanding leads to higher-order thinking skills and aids learning.
3. Inculcate values: The wicked deeds of the step-mother versus the goodness of the fairy god-mother in the story of Cinderella, the cruelty of the narcissistic queen in Snow White versus the helping nature of the dwarves – all introduce your child to values. They help her understand the concept of good versus bad, and that good triumphs always.
4. Teach problem-solving skills: The many battles in fairy tales and the way the characters try to overcome the difficulties and obstacles in their lives teach a lesson or two to your child on problem-solving – an important life skill for your little one.
5. Offer an understanding of men and matters: As they read the tales, children get a better insight into the minds of various characters. They apply critical thinking skills to analyse why people think or behave in certain ways. This helps them in their interpersonal and social skills when they grow up.
6. Expand vocabulary: Incidental learning is the best method of learning. And, that’s what reading fairy tales does. It helps your child acquire new words as he reads and thus contributes to building his vocabulary kit.
7. Introduce grim realities of life: No parent would want to expose his child to the harsh realities of life or what you would call the ‘dark’ side of life – wickedness, unhealthy rivalry, treachery, suffering, ill treatment, conflict and so on. Parents are protective by nature and ensure that their children are sheltered from all things negative. So, when they grow up and see or experience for themselves, children are in for a shock. Fairy tales make this easy for children. They introduce the child to all dimensions of life. Thus, it prepares them to face such realities later with resilience.
8. Provide cultural literacy: As the settings of fairy tales is varied, it introduces children to various cultures. This education will help them as they grow up to understand various cultures and make necessary adjustments in their perceptions.
So, take your children on a magical journey to the world of kings, queens, knights, dragons and fairies… Let the tales make them dream. After all, dreams are what our lives are built on.
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Dr Priscilla J S Selvaraj