Developing the imagination of young children is extremely important. So important, in fact, that the great Albert Einstein believed that “imagination is more important than knowledge.” That is quite a huge statement to make, especially from someone is so well known for their breadth of knowledge! While no one can argue the importance of knowledge and education, many often undercut the important of imagination in young minds. Children who develop their imaginations at an early age continue to grow in that area their entire life. Those children are usually the ones that turn into who adults who excel at solving problems and find innovative new solutions.
Imagination, like a muscle in the body, is something that needs to develop, and takes time and repetition. There are certain actions and processes children can do help stimulate and grow their imagination. Here is a list of just a few ways to help develop a child’s imagination:
Encourage Open-Ended Play – There is no better way to advance a child’s imagination than to have them engage in what is known as “open-ended play”. Open-ended play can simply be defined as play with no guidelines or limitations. Without directions, a child is free to use a toy or object any way their brains can imagine. There are obvious benefits to educational toys that require a child to press a button or watch a video, but nothing increases the imagination better than something very simple, such as LEGO’s, art supplies, or an instrument. Engaging in open-ended play is essential for boosting a child’s imagination.
Open Those Books – Reading and being read to are essential for boosting a child’s imagination. When a kid reads a book, he or she is using the words on the pages to create a fantasy world in their head. They are creating how these characters look and the world they live in. The same thing happens when you read to your child as well. As a bonus, have your kids use their imagination to create additional or alternative stories for the characters in the books. Have them describe to you what would happen if the characters lived on their street, or went to their school. This type of thinking will expand their imagination!
Get Artsy – Doing arts and crafts or playing an instrument can be types of open-ended play, and they are sure to boost a child’s imagination. When you hand a kid an instrument or a paintbrush and paper, they instantly become great toys for learning since you are giving them a blank canvas to create whatever they want. They may not know how to play or create anything in particular, but the beauty in it all is that is when their imagination takes over the most! They literally become free to create whatever their heart desires. It is ok if they want to learn a song or trace a picture; they will learn and become and more skilled. It is best for the imagination, however, if they are free to work without directions or guidelines. This will help to enhance their imagination most effectively.
Encourage Innovation – Kids think of the wildest things don’t they? That’s good! That means their imagination is working! We should encourage this type of thinking in young minds. Let them create their own subplots to TV shows. Let them choose their own outfits (no matter how weird or embarrassing). Even let them help pick out their meals! All of these things are sure to boost a child’s imagination and have a great time in the process!