''Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life's coming attractions.''
Remember the days when you would run around the house wearing a cape, pretending to be a superhero, or the time when you used to have imaginary tea parties with your friends? It is fascinating to watch a child's imagination in its full swing when it often runs wild and free of any inhibitions. Using your imagination may seem like a simple child's play, but this critical cognitive skill that is developed during childhood, remains with an adult throughout his/her life. It is with the use of this critical thinking tool that we are able to visualize, solve complex problems, understand different perspectives, and come up with ideas.
During the child's first few years, he/she learns to do a number of things, like reading, singing, eating, walking, etc. These activities help in jump-starting a child's brain, and allowing him/her to think and learn. Encouraging a child's imagination aids him/her find creative ways to solve problems and provide the ability to meet challenges. The children who learn to use their imagination actively also acquire a positive attitude towards solving problems. Children are naturally curious and constantly looking for answers. Instead of quelling their creativity and enthusiasm for learning, it is important for parents to encourage it. Here are some great ways to boost your child's imagination and creativity.
Limit Exposure to Television
If you need to fuel a child's enthusiasm and imagination, then it is vital to set a limit for television viewing time. This applies to video games and computers as well. Most parents do not understand this or tend to disregard it. Many people often use the television as their electronic babysitter while they are doing their household jobs. However, this can have an extremely negative impact on the child's imagination.
Unlike activities, such as reading and playing with toys where a child learns to imagine scenes, sounds, and colors, television viewing is a passive activity that does the job of visualizing for the child. It, thus, limits the child's budding imagination.
Find Open-ended Toys or Props
Unstructured play is a great way to encourage a child's imagination. There are many toys and games available in the market that promise to spark the child's imagination and creativity. What you need, however, are not a lot of manufactured toys with popular cartoon characters or preassembled play kits. Instead, provide the child with some great toys for open-ended play, such as blocks of all shapes and sizes and art supplies.
You might get all your information from the Internet and television programs, but nothing compares to reading good books. Read aloud some great stories about unfamiliar lands and people. Do this in an interesting way by making dramatic sounds or mimicking different creatures while reading. This will keep the child entertained and compel him/her to explore and imagine new things. Reading to children also helps in development of listening skills and comprehension in the child.
Pretend Play for Imagination
Watch the child in the image above pretending to be a doctor while using a stuffed bear as her patient. This is known as pretend play or symbolic play. In this case, the child uses the stuffed toy and considers it to be a symbol of a patient. Adults may find this game silly, but pretend play is actually very important for the child. It helps in the development of social and emotional skills as the child learns to solve problems and share responsibilities. It is also a great way to expose the child to new vocabulary and nurture his/her imagination.
Music and Dance Fuels Imagination
Nothing can spark the imagination like creative arts, such as music and dance. Allow the child to explore the rhythms of music and movement to fuel his/her imagination. You can get the child small musical instruments, like drums or use empty containers, like an empty tin. Although they may not know how to play it perfectly, but musical instruments are useful for stimulating their mind and firing up their creativity.
Art and Craft Activities
Children love to create new things. Give them paints, crayons, chalk, markers, clay, craft paper, or blocks, and watch their imagination run wild as they try to make new things. Do not worry even if the child tries to paint the grass red and the sky green. The goal is not to be perfect, but different and imaginative. Provide a nice, open space where the child can explore and play with a variety of art material.
Nature is the Best Teacher
Take walks with the child, and familiarize him/her with the various sights and sounds of nature. Avoid the urge to teach. Instead, just point out and tell the child what they are. For example, if you spot a butterfly, you can point out and just say, "Look at that butterfly." This will enhance the child's curiosity and information base.
It is Okay to Be Messy
Children will be messy when they are busy with their creative pursuits. For example, when they are playing with clay, your entire house can be littered with pieces of clay and paint.
Listening to your child and encouraging him/her are important. Play with the child, plan activities together, and allow him/her to take the lead role while playing. Do not mock the child, make unflattering comparisons, correct too quickly, or pass judgmental comments. Embarrassing and shaming just stifles a child's imagination. Instead, encourage exploration by passing motivating comments, such as "What a great idea!" and so on.