Ayva doesn’t get a whole lot of screen time. It’s not that we don’t believe in computers or television. In our family, though, and with our particular child, we find that a lot of television or time spent on the computer affects behavior. Oh, she’s fine for 1 or 2 of her shows, or while playing a couple games, but after that, Ayva zones out, and starts getting irritable when we tell her it’s time to unplug. Fortunately, she has a huge imagination and is able to find creative ways to keep herself busy. We very rarely hear the dreaded phrase, “Mom, I’m bored”.
The best thing about Ayva being encouraged to use her imagination is watching her discover how to think creatively about solving problems. She doesn’t have a big dollhouse, so when her doll babies need a castle to sleep in, she makes one from the other toys that she does own. If none of those give her the effect she wants, her toy box will do. I’ve seen her turn a piece of paper into a lovely ball gown, and a rock into a favorite family pet. When a child has an active imagination, they don’t see problems, they see solutions. In fact, parents can learn a lot from that!
How do you encourage kids to think creatively and to have an imagination? It’s certainly more difficult now that we’re in the information age. So much of what our children are taught is about actuality, and the question everyone is trying to answer is, “is that true?” Actuality and truth doesn’t exist when it comes to imagination. In a creative child’s world, dogs can talk, fishes can drive, and nothing is impossible. We need to foster that for as long as we can. Innovation comes from imagination, and that’s one of the most important 21st century skills.
Some of the things that you can do to ensure that your child’s imagination flourishes include:
- Provide your child with a variety of age appropriate toys. You don’t have to go broke shopping, but pick things up on sale that you think they might like. Every once in awhile, pull out an older toy and remind your child that they have it and encourage them to do something cool with it.
- Pretend with your child. I know everyone is short on time, but when you get down on the floor and are the voice of that pet rock, or let your child “cut” your hair in their “barbershop”, you’re showing them that pretending is so important that even Mommy makes time for it.
- Play along when they’re being imaginative. If you’re riding in the car, and your child says, “Look at that huge dinosaur!”, look at it, comment on it, and encourage them to take the story even further. Whatever you do, don’t say, “There are no dinosaurs.” Please. Just don’t.
How do you encourage your child to be imaginative? How have you seen it benefit them? I’d love to read more tips below!