How often do you find yourself sharing your house with a princess, Iron Man, a unicorn? If you have little ones, I’m sure the answer is quite often. Children are hardwired to be creative and imaginative, and as parents, we know the importance of fostering our children’s imaginations. And while it is fun to sit back and watch the fun, it’s even better for their development to join in the fun once in a while.
Imagination and creativity are critical to child development
Imaginative play offers many benefits to your child; it is a big part of how they learn about the world. During this playtime, they manipulate materials, both intentionally and unintentionally plan, act, interact, react, and express themselves both verbally and non-verbally.
During your child’s early years, this type of playing helps to develop critical thinking in children and fosters creative problem-solving. An additional added benefit is social-emotional development but allowing children to contemplate different resolutions, which can help increase a child’s self-esteem.
Unique ideas to nurture imagination and creativity
- Invent scenarios – this is a no-brainer. When a child invents a scenario they take on many different roles and plans actions. Sock puppets, dolls, action figures, and other toys can be incorporated to help foster scenarios that they are interested in. Is your child a superhero fantatic? Come up with a scenario where they have to be the hero and give them their own superpower!
- Art – this is the standard creative outlet. While children are often times painting or coloring, make sure to relish every piece that they make, no matter how it turns out. As parents, we want to guide them to make their artwork look a certain way – this is what the sun looks like, this is where you should put this, let me help you with that. But let them go wild – to their little minds, the way that they glued that little piece of paper to the cardboard was amazing! They will be working with shapes and colors and orientations soon enough – until then, let them experiment with the tools and materials and put things together the way that they want.
- Get involved with storytime – we understand the importance of reading to our children, but there is a wealth of creativity that we sometimes forget about when it comes to storytime. Make sure to ask questions about the story as you are reading, ask them about what they are imagining when they hear about the characters in the story: how it makes them feel and what they are thinking about. This critical thinking will lead to many amazing thoughts and plenty of laughs!
- Scavenger hunt – this is such a great idea for invoking creativity – Instead of just planting items for your children to find, mix in some actions as well. Find a place to sit, find specific items that can be used for something else, find a new plant or animal (if you are outside), etc. These types of activities can really help to spark some creativity in your little ones!
- Unpuppets – put a little spin on puppet shows. Instead of just using puppets, gather a box of assorted household items – show box, paper cups, flashlight, anything that isn’t sharp and dangerous – and have your child create a “puppet show” using those objects. You will be amazed at how quickly their little minds turn these items into characters and creatures, and the wild stories that they come up with for these objects!
These are only a few suggestions, but I think you will get the idea. Creativity and imagination is vital to your child, and with some creativity and imagination of our own, we can really help foster and brig out those amazing qualities in our children. The benefits of this type of playtime are amazing and will help build self-confidence and conflict-resolution skills in your children.