A child’s imagination is an incredible thing because it operates without boundaries. Albert Einstein said that, “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.” As parents, we may have fun and encourage our children’s creative thoughts, but sometimes we unknowingly (or deliberately) stifle their imagination because we are afraid of our children not knowing what is really real.
The truth is, your children probably know that puppies aren’t hiding under their covers waiting to tickle them, they just enjoy the opportunity to be silly, to imagine, and to think creatively. This type of pretend play is actually beneficial to your children’s development. It can help them to better understand themselves and the world, while working out issues that may be scary to them. It also helps them develop social and emotional intelligence.
At Modernize, we want to help you create opportunities for your child’s imagination to grow. In addition to helping with their development, you’re bound to have a lot of fun in the process! One way to help children see the magic in the world, develop their social and fine motor skills through play, and spend quality time nurturing their imagination is with activities that encourage creative play. Kids also enjoy receiving mail, so monthly subscription boxes, like Surprise Ride (pictured above), with imaginative activities are a great way to foster creative play for your kids.
Scale the World for Your Child
So much of the world is not child-sized, and not only can that be frustrating for your children, but it can also make it hard for your children to wrap their minds around concepts like what a city is, how food grown on a farm gets to the grocery store, or what it means when you say the family is going on a road trip. Provide your children with the opportunity to build miniature structures (houses, towers, bridges) to help develop their fine motor skills. Allow them to play with small cars, trains, or airplanes to help them understand movement and develop their spacial awareness. While you’re helping them understand how the word around them works, remember not to stifle their creative impulses. If they want to build your house on top of a bridge, just go with it. They may have a great story and a fun perspective to share with you.
Let Your Child Play Host
Whether it’s a tea party, a dinner party, or their very own talk show, role playing with your children is a great way for them to develop their vocabulary, social skills, and confidence. Ultimately, they are going to begin by modeling what they see from you, which can be funny and enlightening, if not a little embarrassing! They’ll also follow the social cues that they’ve picked up from books and movies. Think of this type of play as essentially improv. Participate enthusiastically, saying yes to their suggestions. Basically, don’t try to direct the conversations, just follow their lead. A camel is joining you for a pizza party in an igloo? Well, of course! Maybe he should take a seat next to the wizard who just walked into the igloo! If you try to shut down seemingly crazy suggestions, you may shake your child’s confidence. And who knows, you may just be raising the next great fiction writer!
Provide a Large Canvas for Dreams to Take Shape
Painting a wall with chalkboard paint is a great, inexpensive way to provide your children with a large space to practice handwriting and to build their math skills, while also nurturing a budding artist. It also creates a great space for children to play school–helping ease young children’s anxiety about starting school. Encourage your children to use this space to draw pictures from stories you have read together. Allow your children to take turns playing teacher and student so that they can start to understand how school works and get excited about attending. Use the chalkboard to help count out items in the room–number of legos, chairs, stuffed animals. Also, encourage doodling! There are so many studies that demonstrate that doodlers are actually more present in the moment, as well as being great listeners and creative thinkers.
Provide an Environment That Fosters Wonder and Creativity
Finally, design your child’s bedroom or playroom to help cultivate their inner explorer, astronaut, or swashbuckling pirate. Murals and stencils on the wall help transport your child to a new locale, almost as if they are stepping into the pages of a storybook. An interesting ceiling like a faux night sky can help foster the most wonderful dreams and make nervous sleepers rest more easily. Make this a kid-focused space where anything (within reason) is possible!