This is a partnered post.
One of the most important things you teach your children is to use their imagination. For one, it makes them a lot less likely to stay glued to a screen for the rest of their young life. But it also teaches creative thinking and exploring one’s mind, two talents that stay very helpful throughout life. One of the best teaching tools is, of course, play, so what kinds of play can you use in particular for building imagination?
Watch it grow
Imagination works best when it has inspiration to work from. Children learn by seeing and experiencing, not just doing. So, seeing imagination at work can be a great spark for their own. From a very young age, storybooks allow children to explore that imagination with the help of others. Reading with them at bedtime is a great way to kickstart the love of a story, but you should help them start to read on their own as well.
Put it in their hands
Stories aren’t the only things that use imagination, either. If you give a child something, they will immediately start applying their imagination to it. So, why not give them something that allows them to express it as creatively as possible? What could your child do with a travel art case? Make a mess is a very likely answer, but the right one is whatever they can think of. Letting children express themselves artistically early teaches them not only to imagine but to be in touch with their thoughts, to visualize and follow their own goals to create something of their own.
Set the scene
Pretend is the game that children have the most fun with. They will pretend with just about anything but if you get them the toys and the tools that help them set a scene, they will really throw themselves into it. So, what will help them? What are the best teepees and playhouses that can help them imagine their own little homes and hideaways? What costumes might they absolutely adore and help them really get into their role? You can even take it further and help them find children’s drama groups.
Let them tell their own story
Children are very capable of telling stories, even though they might not have all the narrative techniques quite mastered, yet. But the act of telling a story can be thrilling to them, especially when they can see their story from beginning to end. To that end, one of the best toys for them might be story cards that allow them to arrange pictures in order. Some of them come with “correct” answers and these are very useful educational tools. But more often, the cards that allow them to make up their own answers are what they’ll spend the most time having fun with.
When a child gets in touch with their imagination, it becomes one of their best friends. You might even get exhausted with how often you have to play pretend with them. But helping it flourish will keep them creative, inquisitive, and imaginative for the rest of their life.