The importance of imagination in shaping your child’s future is something that should not be underestimated. Cultivating your children’s imagination can give them many benefits that will always be at their disposal.
When imagining scenarios of other worlds children are unhindered and unrestricted by limitations of any kind allowing them to go beyond normal boundaries and come up with their own unique and very personal experiences.
Imagination plays a very important role in each child’s development. Being able to place themselves in varying scenarios or changing possible outcomes helps them with coping. Research has shown that kids with well developed imaginations deal with stressful situations better and are also able to cope with and adjust to change more easily.
Children that have well developed imaginations are far more likely to be able to come up with creative solutions or think outside the square.
This allows them to play cooperatively, interact well with others and to develop life skills that will extend into all areas of their future due to their well developed social skills.
Cultivation of your child’s’ imagination can have benefits in the following areas:
- In our modern careers being able to come up with creative solutions and be a creative thinker is often very important and well rewarded. Children that may find themselves at the mercy of their emotions can master these feelings by imagining better outcomes. Imagination helps children to deal with upheaval or difficult situations more easily. Role playing can allow the chance to develop skills that help to improve learning and success. They will be better problem solvers and innovators. They are allowed the opportunity to practice life skills and enrich their vocabulary. Playing cooperatively sets the foundation for good social skills and the ability to express your ideas and motivate others is developed from an early age.
Imagination does indeed play an important part in the success in life that we will achieve so it is important that we allow time for imaginative play and creative thinking.
Things that discourage our children’s imagination include Television, movies and internet gaming because as scenarios and different worlds have already been created there is no need for the child to be creatively imaginative.
Also over scheduling of activities including lessons and tutoring can be detrimental as children need the time to be children as well. They need to imagine, to create and to let their minds roam free – creating whatever they can imagine without any criteria specifying what is possible or what is not.
Just think how different our world would be today if aviation pioneers just said: “Oh well we could do it if it wasn’t for this damn gravity,” “Better go back to chopping wood for the fire.”
Children need time to be kids, they need to play, to dream, to get lost in their own little worlds unmediated by those whose imagination has begun to get lost in a myriad of everyday activities.
This capacity is completely natural for children, as it was once for all of us. Where possible become involved with their imaginative play and ask questions about the scenes they are creating.
Always let them take the lead however and never force them to share something that they may not be comfortable to share because imagination is something that is completely unique to every individual.
Allow yourself to go back to your own childhood and enjoy feeling free from the restrictions we impose on ourselves, given our own unique view of reality.
Imagination also offers the chance to create dreams and goals and when we have done this we can pave a pathway to achieving these goals. Imagination is the first step in the sequence of success.
A life without imagination would be dull, colourless and boring, so take the time to cultivate not only your child’s imagination – but your own as well.
The number of ways in which you can unlock and stimulate our children’s imagination is really only limited by your own imagination and the games and situations you can come up with to engage your children.
Try the following imagination games that are suggested below and enjoy the fun times and unexpected results they may bring.
Pick different animals for your children to imitate. Get them to act like these animals with gestures and body language, noises and actions.
Where there are multiple children involved, get them to make the whole exercise into a parade.
Just sit back and enjoy the laughter, noise and craziness that ensues.
Designing my future
Give your child the opportunity to design or come up with ideas for what sort of clothes that they would like to wear.
Get them to draw pictures or make a collage from images they
find in magazines.
They may be the sort of thing they would like their favourite
superhero to wear.
Get them to invent their own super hero and ask them
questions such as:
What sort of special powers would your favourite superhero have?
What makes your favourite superhero so great, and why are they better than other superheroes?
What would your favourite superhero do when faced with
Never get board
Get your children to come up with their own board game along with instructions and a set of rules.
Give them appropriate art materials and find dice and any other necessary pieces to make their own idea come to life.
Sit down with them and play their new board game and where any problems with rules or how to play the game arise help them to come up with constructive solutions on their own to make things work as they would like them to.
Get your children and their friends where possible to make up their own play.
If necessary suggest subject matter for the play and find things like costumes or cardboard boxes that they can use.
Get them to make tickets and organise seating to watch their play.
Maybe if you feel like it give them some money for the tickets and allow them to keep it for their efforts in organising and putting on the play.
This not only encourages imagination and hard work but shows them how to be entrepreneurial making their own money with creative ideas.
What’s your story?
Pick a subject and some characters for your children and ask them to come up with a story that involves these characters.
Ask them to present or tell the story to you which means they practise public speaking without even being aware of it.
Get them to describe in as much detail as possible any sights, sounds, smells or sensations of taste or touch that may be involved in the story. This gives them practice at using sensory-rich language which is much more interesting to listen to due to its descriptive nature and its ability to spark the imagination.
Budding Rock Stars
Use cardboard and string and other props. Ask your children to make their own instruments and put on their own musical performance.
Get them to do a performance for you with these pretend instruments and play them a familiar song to perform to.
If you really wish to challenge their imagination get them to come up with their own lyrics and write these down on a song sheet.
Again you can ask them to make tickets or a program for the performance that they will put on for you.
Dance Like No-one is watching
Put on music that your children like and are familiar with and get them to dance and move in a way they think their favourite T.V. Identity, superhero or animal may dance.
Something you can do at any time and in any situation to stimulate the imagination of your child is to ask “what if questions.”
What if you could live anywhere you wanted to?
Get them to describe the scene to you including all aspects of why it would be so great to live there.
What sort of house would you have?
Would it be by the ocean or near the mountains or in the city?
What would you do each day when you where there?
What do you want to be when you grow up?
Ask your child what they dream of becoming when they grow up.
Now get them to show how they will act and what they will say when they are in their dream career.
Ask how will you act, walk and talk when you are an astronaut on the moon?
How will you perform your duties when you are a fireman or pilot?
Ensure you let them come up with their own suggestions on what they want to be when they grow up. This is supposed to be fun and stimulating for their impressionable young minds.
The silent treatment
Give your child some different words and ask them to convey these words with only actions and gestures.
Some examples of words you can give them that will evoke large creative gestures could include:
Sunny, Screech, Explode, Bounce
Act out a scene from everyday life with your children, such as making dinner, going to the shops or going to the doctors.
Take the role yourself as the doctor or shopkeeper and encourage your child to act as they would have to if they had to approach this situation on their own.
Use props or costumes where you can and make the situation as real as possible as overcoming any difficulties they may encounter helps them to become more independent and shows them how to deal with strangers.
“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.” Albert Einstein
Enjoy what your children’s imagination creates.