Is your child using the unlimited power of his imagination? Take the short quiz below to find out.
1. Does your child play with toys that do not require batteries or electricity?
2. Does your child have at least four hours a day of uninterrupted time to play and pretend with the above mentioned toys?
3. Does your child have a place inside and if possible outside that is designated for play things?
4. Do you read interesting stories together that promote a child’s imagination?
5. Has your child ever pretended to be something like a super hero, airplane pilot, a mommy, a daddy, etc.?
If you answered yes to all of the above questions, chances are your child has a vivid imagination and if you answered no to any, you may want to start doing things a little differently. Did you know that Albert Einstein, one of the greatest scientists to ever live, said, “Imagination is more important that knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we know and understand. While imagination embraces the entire world.”
Today people tend to think that children need something planned for them every minute of the day. Because of this, children can potentially go through life never tapping into their greatest resource – their imagination. Between computer games, watching television, dancing lessons, softball practice, and volleyball camp a young girl of age eight might not get the time she needs during the summer to tap into her fabulous imagination just waiting to be discovered. Many parents today, with the best interest of their children in mind, over-schedule and over-stimulate their kids. Running to and fro, back and forth, giving children little time to explore their creative power.
To truly discover the potential of the imagination, children need to have down time, aka time not noticeably supervised by an adult. While an adult should always be present and watching over children at play, it is necessary for kids to feel free to express themselves in a morally acceptable way. If your children are not ones to play with toys that require no batteries or electricity, you may have to get them started and teach them to use their imagination. Once you do, you will be pleasantly surprised at the inconceivable ideas they come up with. Soon they will be telling you tales of how they slayed a dragon and saved a whole town from certain death. If you have an only child it is important for you to play with them, but just as important to have children their age to play with also.
Kay Redfield Jamison, professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University, goes so far as to say, “Play is not a luxury; it is a necessity.” When children are playing they are in charge of their world and the problems that may exist there. They can solve what might be an imaginative adult problem in an environment they control by using a solution that they themselves have come up with. This in turn, will help them to develop a healthy dose of confidence and common sense.
Can you imagine what our world would be like today if the Wright Brothers didn’t have the time and resources to use their imagination? A flying machine is not something the logical mind could necessarily conceive. If your children are taught and allowed the time to use their imaginations, they can develop the potential to change the future. John Sculley, a business executive says, “The future belongs to those who see possibilities before they become obvious.” Anyone who ever accomplishes anything must first spend a certain amount of time daydreaming, desiring, and imagining.
Summer is the perfect time to access the imagination. Try these fun tips to get you and your children started dreaming and imagining.
1. Go to a nearby beach and build a sandcastle. All you need is a bucket and a couple of shovels. You could even use some old utensils from your kitchen: bowls, spoons, cups, and pans. Wet the sand pack it in a container and turn it upside-down. To make tall spires and steeples get sand really wet and let it drizzle off your fingers.
2. Make up a story and act it out. You could start by pretending the sandcastle you built at the beach was real. What is the history? How was it built? Who built it? The Middle Ages are rich with history and legends, so encourage your child to come up with some of their own!
3. Encourage your children to put on a play. Give them some old clothes and a few props and watch the magic begin.
4. Watch the first Toy Story movie together or read The Velveteen Rabbit. Ask your child to think about what kind of adventures their toys might have when no one is around.
Are you getting excited? Are you ready to play, dream, and create? Great! Now take that excitement and begin encouraging your children to use their imagination. Take a tip from Duane Michals and “Trust that little voice in your head that says, ‘Wouldn’t it be interesting if . . .’ and then do it.”
Laura Ann Huber is the author of The ABC’s of Homeschooling, excerpts of which have been included in this piece. She’s the proud parent of three children and more information about their imaginative adventures can be found at : www.laurahuber.com.