This is our second week of our Summer Learning Series and this week is all about imagination.
I think encouraging imagination in our children is something we all agree with. As parents, we know it is important, but sometimes with our busy lives and schedules we forget to take the time to help our children just be themselves. Luckily children are naturally very imaginative and everywhere they go can be magical, but we need to make sure we are not stifling their creativity.
Child-development experts all agree that a child with a good imagination is happier and more alert and able to cope with life’s ups and downs a little better. Children with great imaginations become creative adults. Creativity doesn’t just mean artistic either. Creative adults are innovative and good problem solvers. Basically, children with imaginations that have been nurtured will one day change the world.
Here are some great ways to help our children develop their imaginations:
….and then read some more. Read, read read! Reading is a great way to enrich your child’s imagination. I talk about reading all the time on the blog and how important reading to your child really is. Read this post on tips for reading to your children and then make it a habit. There are many benefits to reading to your child, but as far as their imaginations go they can be anything they want to be. They can be a pirate, a dinosaur, a wizard or very hungry caterpillar. Books take you away to a different magical places all while sitting in your own home. Here is a list of our favorite picture books for kids.
Telling stories that you make up together is a great way to get their imaginations working. My family loves to tell stories in the car while we are driving, but everyone takes a turn telling a short portion of the story until we are done. It’s fun to see all the turns the story makes as each child adds their own personality and imagination to the story. As we tell stories I am always blown away with the wonderful things they comes up with. Their characters usually have a problem that they need to solve and it’s fun to hear their problem solving skills at work. Telling stories with your child as a character is a great way to develop their sense of self.
Props don’t need to be elaborate or expensive. My favorite thing as a child was a fitted sheet on my head so I could become Rapunzel with long flowy hair. A towel can become a cape, empty paper towel rolls can be a telescope for a pirate or explorer and boxes (oh, how we love boxes!) can become space ships, castles, race cars or submarines (to name a few).
Dress ups and costumes are also fun props, but they don’t have to look like one specific character. They are fun, and great for imagination too, but keep the dress up items simple and see your child put together a new character all their own. I like to find random things here and there at thrift stores or yard sales to add to a dress up box.
Give Them Toys With No Batteries
I love toys that run on imagination instead of batteries. Battery-free toys help children express themselves, learn about the world around them and solve problems. Here is a list of our favorite toys that don’t require batteries.
Provide lots of art supplies and let your child use them and let them take the lead. Paint, draw, color, make something out of play dough, the possibilities are endless. My daughter loves making these bubble wrap stamps for something a little different to use when making art.
Don’t Give Rules When Doing Art Projects
I like to let my children lead the way with their own art projects as stated above, but occasionally it is fun to do a fun craft with your child. We love these creative art projects and these under the sea inspired crafts, but just make sure that even though you are providing the materials for a craft you don’t give any rules. You let them choose the colors and if there are pieces of different materials to glue together, let the child do it! It might not look perfect, but it will look like the child thinks it should.
Limit Screen Time
I know it is tempting to throw a tablet at a bored child or put them in front of the TV when you need a virtual babysitter. I get it, I really do. I have used our TV so I can have a moment to myself, but the key is moderation AND watch with your child. You can talk about what they are watching and it’s fun to see their reactions to what they’re watching. It will also help ensure that they don’t end up vegging in front of the TV for hours.
Have fun exploring the world with your child. It’s fun to be around children because they are so naturally imaginative, it’s fun to remember what it was like when you were younger and learn how to use your imagination again. As you go about your busy lives don’t forget to let your children explore, play and be creative.