Perplexed child to teacher “we don’t know how to imagine. We haven’t had that lesson yet” The teacher said the children really didn't know what the word meant and didn't know how to begin. So she had to teach them how to imagine, to use their imagination. Hardest of all to begin with was to use their own imagination freely without restriction.
There has been so much talk about the regrettable decline in allocation of time for children to just do nothing. Time for children just to be children. To play by themselves or play together without interference or direction. On one hand parents think free play time is wasted time and on the other hand there are an ever growing number of electronic games for the children to use. Parents are now giving children as young as 18 months to 2 years their own tablet to play with. It makes a useful electronic baby sitter. But at what cost?
The growing abundance of websites and blogs dedicated to providing ideas for games, crafts and activities for young children and even for teens provide a useful source of ideas if you want to limit screen time. They develop the child’s creativity, and motor dexterity. Playing together develops language and understanding. The time spent is priceless, not just because it helps the child’s cognitive development but it builds a store of wonderful memories they can pass on to their children. What can they pass on if all they have done is swipe an iPhone?
Is it a sign of the times that parents now enrol for classes to learn how to play with their children? Search on line for Children’s craft ideas, cooking with children, free printables, and of course a wonderful way of stimulating imagination and sharing some quality time together is to tell stories. Try the Story Museum where they have 1001 stories for you to read and retell. Searching for children’s stories, stories from different countries and for different occasions like Halloween, Diwali, Ramadan, Christmas and Easter will reveal a rich treasure trove. Our own free “30 Ways to Encourage Imaginative Play” may be helpful.
Best of all, allow time for the children to enter their own world of make believe and pretend games. That way they make sense of the world around them, have control of their own environment, develop language, and develop their imagination. All absolutely essential for their development into rounded adults, able to think creatively in business and in life and to empathise and understand others. Being able to play and to play on their own is an essential part of their development. The pressure on children to achieve, whether actual or implied, has never been greater nor has the increase in childhood depression, anxiety and stress related eating disorders. The greatest increase has become evident in affluent high achieving families. Play time is never wasted time. It is essential.
Do you have any really simple and quick ways to fire your children’s imaginations?
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The founder of Fairy Tale Children's Furniture, Zandra Johnson is a passionate advocate of imaginative play for children. Studies reveal free time spent playing make-believe helps children develop critical cognitive skills. Fairytale Furniture helps build those skills through imaginative play. Download your free guide to Imaginative Play at FAIRYTALECHILDRENSFURNITURE.CO.UK