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How to Enhance your Child's Imagination

Updated on March 25, 2014
Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

Tracy has been working in the field of education for many years specializing in both Waldorf and Montessori methodologies.

It is obvious that you would want your child to be safe, feel loved and grow up to be healthy and happy. What is less obvious is the need for your child's imagination to be allowed to grow and flourish.

The imagination which exists in each human mind is unique. By imagining what our life can be like we can make dreams for ourselves.

Benefits of a good imagination include:

  • Discovering a fulfilling path for our lives.
  • Solving problems by imagining different solutions.
  • Inventions and business concepts.
  • Empathy - Imaging how it would feel to be the other person and treating them accordingly.
  • Artistic fulfillment.
  • Creative expression through art.
  • Writing.

What things can we do to nurture and develop our child's imagination?

  • Provide open ended toys which direct the child into thinking about ways that they want to use them. Lego blocks, for example, can be made into an infinite number of things, while a fire truck will always be a fire truck. Toys with a single use do not foster the growth of imagination. (see more about toys)

  • Less is more. If a child has too many toys, this too will limit their ability to imagine the many uses of one toy. Adult intelligence tests ask questions such as "How many uses can there be for a certain object?" A person of higher intelligence will imagine many uses for the object. This kind of intelligence can be encouraged or discouraged by the child's environment.
  • Children need the time to develop their imaginations. If they are over-scheduled then they never get the opportunity to practice thinking in this way.
  • Less visual media. When a child is looking at another person's image of something clearly defined, then their mind is not forced to imagine. For example, if I describe to a child a King wearing a multi jeweled crown, long plush cape, standing in front of a large stone castle, the child's imagination needs to paint a picture based on the words I have given. If, on the other hand, the child sees an image of the same thing, the imagination shuts down. This is what visual media does. Children need to hear more and see less in terms of media.
  • Doing nothing. This may sound counter productive to an enriching environment for a child, yet doing nothing externally is another opportunity for the imaginative mind to practice thinking internally and imaginatively. Car rides without DVD's are opportunities for the child to sit and imagine.
  • Reading. A child's imagination will be greatly expanded by being read to as well. Books with fewer pictures, or none at all, are also helpful. Without pictures, and with listening to rich vocabulary, the child is learning to create images for themselves. (see more about reading)

Every parent wants the best for his or her child, but often times we think of the best in an external way such as the best nutrition or the best education. The component of imagination is one that parents should consider as well along the journey of raising a child to becoming a happy, healthy adult.

Toys that support a child's imagination

Dress up clothes, dolls, puppets, play dough (see recipe below), clay, crayons, paint, lego, blocks, magnets, cardboard boxes, tables and blankets as forts, stores, little houses etc.

Playdough Recipe

You will need:

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1 cup of salt
  • 4 tablespoons oil
  • 1 tablespoon cream of tartar
  • 2 cups of water
  • food coloring

Stir all ingredients in a pot over medium heat. When the dough starts to separate from the sides of the pot turn dough onto counter and knead until smooth. Keep sealed in an airtight container when not using. Enjoy!

© 2011 Tracy Lynn Conway


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