Today’s children may be at a distinct disadvantage because unlike us, they don’t get as many opportunities to use their imagination, due to the abundance of technology and almost infinite variety of toys available to them. Psychologists and child development experts, however, know the importance of imaginative play in how a child grows and matures.
Imaginative play is the foundation of learning. When a child plays, they begin to establish patterns of communication with others; they learn to cooperate, they develop creativity, and they begin to learn how to solve problems. There is so much that imaginative play can do for a child.
Unfortunately, many toy manufacturers are making toys that take little imagination to play with. Or the children spend their time in front of computer or television screens, rather than being creative and using that all-important imagination.
When a child uses their imagination in play, they are being creative – not just in play, but this creativity will help them throughout their lives. They may see a new solution to a problem in the future that may escape others. They may invent a piece of equipment or process for manufacturing that will revolutionize society. Creative minds – those that are given the opportunity to thrive in free, imaginative play – are those that will find the cures for diseases, new ways to help combat global warming, or develop new modes of transportation.
How can we, as parents, encourage this important task of imaginative play? Here are a few things we can do:
* Buy toys that can be played with in more than one way – building blocks, food items, and dolls often fit this description.
* Create a specific place in your home where children can be safe.
* Limit the amount of time your children have with technology – televisions, computers, video games – especially while they are young and just developing their imaginative “muscles”.
* If at all possible, allow your child plenty of time to play in their imaginary world. Don’t interrupt them unless you have to.
* Let your child play outside as much as possible. If they are outside, they aren’t bombarded with commercials or technology telling them how to play with certain items.
Imaginative play does so much for a child as they grow. It helps them learn social skills such as taking turns, sharing, cooperation, and playing by the rules. It also gives your child a chance to express emotions, as well as how to empathize with others. Imaginative play helps your child adapt to changes that happen in their lives.
The importance of imaginative play can’t be taken lightly. Take the opportunity to play with your child. You may be surprised to find that not only do you help your child, but you may just re-establish your own sense of creativity in the process.
photo credit: eyeliam