Did you know that imagination is a crucial part of learning? To help your child boost their imagination, try these seven strategies.
Why Imagination is Important
Imagination is vital in your child’s development because it supports the acquisition of knowledge. Children use creativity to understand new concepts better and make connections between knowledge already acquired. Your child will use their imagination to test different ideas, exploring possibilities and scenarios. As an adult, it’s your responsibility to foster your child’s imagination.
Imagination benefits your child in various ways:
- Develops Empathy: When children use pretend play to be someone else, they consider someone else’s perspective. This is the building block of empathy.
- Increases Vocabulary: During imaginative play, children learn vocabulary words they wouldn’t use in everyday conversation. These vocabulary words are typically fantasy-related.
- Encourages Self Regulation and Problem-Solving Skills: When children engage in pretend play with their peers, they learn social skills like working cooperatively. When they don’t get their way, a child must manage their emotions and self-regulate. Additionally, a group of children must work together to play cooperatively.
- Elevates Self-Expression: Children learn to communicate by using tools like dolls or stuffed animals at an early age. You can better understand what your child has learned at daycare or school by observing how they play with their toys.
How to Help Your Child Build their Imagination
To help your child build their imagination, try out any of these helpful strategies:
1. Ask Thoughtful Questions
One of the easiest ways to encourage your child to build their imagination is to ask them thoughtful questions. Questions that start with “I wonder?” or “what would you do?” tend to be the most thought-provoking. Give your child adequate time to think over the question and consider their response. Ask follow-up questions to facilitate a discussion and foster your child’s imagination.
2. Take Your Child to the Playground
When you take your child to the playground, they embrace their imagination by engaging in unstructured play, either independently or with other children. While on the playground, children can see dramatic benefits to their language and social skills as they play cooperatively with their peers. Imaginative play helps children to develop problem-solving skills and mood self-regulation.
Consider a scenario where your child is playing with others on the playground. They are playing house and using the slides as the driveway to leave home. Your child wants to exit the home, but the other children are taking turns before her. She’s frustrated, but she waits until it’s her turn to use the slide. This is an example of how imaginative play can teach children social skills and self-regulation.
3. Cultivate New Experiences
Foster your child’s natural interests. If they’re curious about animals, take them to a zoo. If they love dinosaurs, take them to a natural history museum. The more experiences your child has at an early age, the more vivid your child’s imagination will become. Continue taking them to art galleries, botanical gardens, musical concerts and museums to expose them to new experiences and fuel their curiosity and hunger to learn.
4. Allow for Down Time
One of the most helpful things you can do for your child is to allow some unstructured time in their daily schedule. As children grow, their plans become busier with more commitments–whether it’s sports, clubs or other activities, it’s crucial to allow for some flexibility. During this unstructured time, your child can use the opportunity to pursue a creative activity or use their imagination in some capacity.
5. Support Art or Other Creative Pursuits
Art is a fantastic way for your child to use their imagination in a creative medium. Present various art forms for your child to express themselves–they can try their hand at drawing, painting or clay. If they express interest or have a knack for art–foster the ability and consider getting lessons for your child.
Additionally, support this creative pursuit if your child is interested in other fine arts like dance or music. Research shows that students who participate in the arts are more confident and motivated, leading to better school attendance and academic achievement.
6. Foster Literacy at Home
When you begin reading to your child at an early age, you get a jumpstart on building their imagination. Reading is the simplest way to foster a broad vision. Books introduce your child to new concepts, experiences and behaviours they’ll likely not experience in their life. Choose books with diverse characters from around the world to help your child develop empathy.
7. Model Your Imagination
Sometimes parents get wrapped up in all they need to do at work or around the house, but it’s okay to take a break and play with the kids! There are many benefits of engaging in pretend or creative play with children. There are significant cognitive benefits when your child plays creatively. Studies have shown that they develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
So don’t be afraid to model your imagination in action and engage your child in creative play the next time you need a break. Your child will benefit, plus you’ll have tons of fun.
Boost Your Child’s Imagination
Help your child by providing opportunities to strengthen their imagination each day. Start with asking thoughtful questions, taking your child to the playground and cultivating new experiences to encourage your kiddo to make connections between their current knowledge and new concepts.