Dr. Suzanne Zeedyk: How Books Help Children Learn About the World
Dr. Suzanne Zeedyk shares her thoughts on how children are learning about the world – and how books support this.
Sharing books is a form of interaction which helps build our "internal teddy bear". This internal teddy bear stays with us our entire life and helps us learn to comfort ourselves. Stories are about sharing experience and building relationships – not literacy, but emotional connection to story, and to others. It’s not about getting it right – it’s about having fun.
Stories are about sharing experience and building relationships
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I'm Doctor Suzanne Zeedyk. I'm a developmental psychologist and I'm the founder of the brand Connected Baby. Because children don't know about the world, and they're learning about it, and because their brain is being constructed on the basis of their experiences, there are two key things that we need to do in those early years and one is: we need to provide lots of reassurance children get overwhelmed in all sorts of ways and every time we provide reassurance, we build the capacity of children to reassure themsleves, we give them an internal teddy bear and we help them to self-regulate. And, if we share joy with them, they also learn that relationships are about sharing joy and sharing safety and that provides for a really different kind of adulthood when you really know how to comfort yourself than if the world feels scary. For young children, the thing that's most important about a book is that it's shared with someone. That together you can share the feelings that are part of the story, so if we've got a story about a tiger sneaking through the jungle, together we can feel the anxiety of the tiger sneaking up on you and together we can feel the relief when the tiger doesn't get us. when those experiences are shared then that builds into baby's brains differently than if the baby hears that story alone. Stories and books for young children are about sharing. They're about the cuddling, they're about the staying safe, they're about the hormones that go through your body as a result of those experiences. And that helps us to rethink what literacy and books are all about. They're actually about sharing emotions. It just gives a different way to think about them, makes them much more exciting and it lets us relax because we don't have to worry about gettingit right, we just have to worry about having fun.