“Come with me, and you’ll be in a world of pure imagination…”
If you have read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, you will remember how creative and imaginative his invented worlds are.
Why is imagination important for children?
Imagination is defined as the creative ability to form ideas and images without external input. Research shows that it helps people to see familiar objects in a new light which aids in thinking out of the box and finding unexpected solutions for problems. With imaginative play, children move beyond typical play scenarios and create meaningful stories and fantasies for themselves. This builds their literacy and even their understanding of science.
As parents, you can do your part to stimulate your children’s imaginations at home and at play.
Make open-ended toys and books available for your children
There is a wonderful saying that advises parents to get toys for their children that are fuelled by their imagination, rather than by batteries! It is very easy for parents to get carried away and load up their children’s playrooms with toys that beep, boop and roll.
However, toys that do only one thing will not stretch imaginations and are not conducive to creative play. Blocks, building sets, a costume box of old clothes – even beads, buttons and small pompoms for older children – these are all toys that can be used in multiple ways for multiple purposes.
The great thing about open-ended toys is that they can really come from anywhere. Parents with an environmental bent will enjoy recycling plastic bowls, chopsticks, toilet rolls and tissue paper boxes for their children.
Give your children space and freedom to explore
One of the best ways to allow your children creative reign is to give them free access to art and craft supplies. Create a simple art corner by providing something to draw on and something to draw with – the former can be stacks of scrap paper, envelopes from your bills and letters, toilet rolls or even cereal boxes opened up and turned inside out. If you give your children washable markers and crayons, you do not have to be too anxious about potential messes.
Another way of giving them freedom is by letting them do what they like. Resist the urge to hover over them and direct their artwork. If they come to you for advice, offer neutral suggestions – “Have you tried those markers? What do you think you could make with that box?” – rather than telling them what to do.
Building skills in a methodical way is valuable, but children also need the time and space to freely explore their imaginations. Skies can be pink, skin can be purple, and dogs can have polka dots and wings!
Ask questions and encourage them in the process
Fostering a creative environment means encouraging your children by finding something positive to say. Praise their efforts by zeroing in on a particular thing they have done well, rather than picking on the one thing they might not quite have succeeded in. Asking questions also shows your children that you are actively invested in what they are doing and how they are growing.
Help your children to articulate their process when you ask questions and show interest in what they do. This aids in improving their critical thinking skills, a crucial skill that will take them far in school and of course, in life.
In classes for kids such as the MindChamps Reading Programme, the children participate in enthusiastic discussions to activate their inquisitive minds and learn how to speak confidently. They even pick up phonics skills which are highly useful for learning to read.
Check out a reading programme for kids in Singapore
With all that checked, what else can you do for your children to build their imaginations? Have you considered looking at a reading programme for kids that also builds on phonics to introduce them into the amazing world of books?
Reading is a valuable tool in growing a child’s imagination by providing your children with books that have fantastical and unrealistic elements in them. Children’s books often feature wild and wonderful settings and characters like fairies, talking animals and animated objects. Reading such books help to keep children’s imaginations elastic as they immerse themselves in these creative alternative worlds.
In the MindChamps Reading Programme, kids are introduced to a wide range of such books in a cosy, safe and happy way, using techniques that are multi-sensorial, creativity-building, and above all, fun!
Written by JoBeth Williams