Imagination and kids go hand in hand. Whether they’re serving tea to their teddy bears, taking part in a good old fashioned sword fight or building a dream castle out of pillows, kids tend to have an incredible talent for turning everyday objects into intriguing characters and fantasy lands.
But while fun for kids, creative exploration also plays a pivotal role in childhood development. Albert Einstein once said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”
Skills like stress-management, problem-solving, and self-confidence can be learned through imaginary play. Whether they’re pretending to drive a car, drawing characters from far-off lands, playing doctor or chopping up plastic carrots for a pretend dinner, playing make-believe helps kids learn how to interact with the world around them. Imagination helps lay the foundations for their long-term intellectual, social and emotional wellbeing.
Pretend Play Starts at Home
Imagination flourishes when kids have plenty of opportunity to use it. While routine and structure is indispensable, it’s also vital that kids freely explore and play in their environments.
Unfortunately, between homework, extra-curricular activities, television and the Internet, it can be easy for kids (and parents) to get caught up in life’s fast lane and put opportunities for imagination on the backburner. It’s, therefore, necessary as parents to encourage your kids to use their imagination whenever possible.
Below are some simple ways you can encourage your kids’ imagination:
Create an Imagination Station – Reserve a corner of the living room for play or fill a box with props that can be used to help the kids express themselves, however, they choose. Whether it’s dress-up clothes, old sheets to use as capes or walls for forts, wigs from Halloween, old cell phones and sunglasses, you’ll be surprised how kids can turn everyday objects into pretend play treasure.
Play Music – Introduce the kids to a variety of music and encourage them to make up dances to each. Whether it’s jazz, classical or rock, music is a fantastic way to inspire movement and teach about different instruments and cultures.
Get Crafty – Save old toilet paper and paper towel rolls and cardboard boxes and collect a variety of crayons, toxic-free finger paint and paper for a rainy day craft party. Whether they make characters from their books or musical instruments, crafts offer many opportunities for imaginations to soar.
Encourage Storytelling– Creating stories together is a terrific way to encourage imagination and bond together. Make up a story and have your kids act out the characters, take turns making up stories based on pictures in a book or encourage them to draw out a story they create.
Limit Technology – Limit the use of the Internet, cell phones, video games and television. While technology is brilliant in moderation, too much can hinder a child’s imagination. Pretend play is not only fun, but an invaluable way to encourage imagination and thus, the skills of our future writers, entrepreneurs, doctors, scientists, lawyers and engineers.