The following guest post is written by Paula of Motherhood Outloud.
Few things are more fun than watching your children’s imaginations in full swing. Indeed, imagining seems to come naturally for most kids. And it’s a huge asset for any child.
Imaginative kids are usually better at independent play and entertaining themselves, (and who doesn’t like that?) and they are also creative problem solvers. Thankfully there are lots of things we as parents can do to foster and encourage an active, healthy imagination in our growing kids.
First, try to have toys that are open-ended.
Items like blocks, which can be a castle one day and a farm the next, are a great example of this. A tent might be a bear cave or a secret clubhouse or a cozy reading nook. Invest in toys that make kids do most of the work of play (i.e. toys that don’t provide sounds and actions for them).
Sand and water tables, Play-Doh, and even a bucket of dried beans all have unlimited potential when placed in the hands of a child.
Second, try to plan activities that are open-ended.
When doing arts and crafts with your children, don’t always have an activity where the end product has to look like the one in the picture. Instead, give them empty paper towel tubes and see what they can make. A tower? Binoculars? A sword?
Encourage free painting and coloring times, save empty shoe boxes and let them decorate and create their own treasure chest. There are tons of great craft ideas on the internet and in books. But don’t get too caught up in the end result. Allow your child to express their creativity by leaving the product mainly up to them.
Third, read, read, read!
I know there are a million and one articles out there on the importance of reading to our children, but it is so important that it bears repeating. Good books and stories expand children’s worlds and build a schema of characters, places, time periods and situations to which they might not otherwise be exposed.
Finding good literature for your kids can be difficult when faced with the endless shelves of titles in the local bookstore or library, but there are lots of good resources to help. Simple Mom has a great recommendation list for the preschool crowd. There is also a great list here, which recommends books by grade level, for preschool through high school.
Finally, model imagination for your children.
One of the best things about having young kids is that you can act completely silly and no one looks at you strangely! So, make a point to pretend with your kids. Throw bed sheets over the dining room table and make a fort, put on a puppet show, make mudpies, and above all teach your kids that an imagination is a wonderful gift not to be wasted!
What are some of the ways in which you encourage your child’s imagination?
***Paula Nix is a mother of 2 little girls and wife of one great husband. In addition to teaching her own children, she also teaches other homeschool students part-time. She blogs about living intentionally as a mom at her site, Motherhood Outloud.***