Last Monday, on a rare snow day here in Minnesota, my 6 year old had a 6-hour playdate with a friend. The amazing thing wasn't the amount of time they played together, but the fact that they never asked to watch TV or go on the computer. Not once!! Hard to believe, in this day and age of digital everything.
Instead, they played make believe games (dragons and princesses, I believe) for hours on end, only stopping for a little indoor picnic when they got hungry.
It got me thinking about what a special gift imagination is. It's not the kind of gift you can wrap up and put under the tree. Everyone is born with at least some sense of imagination but if you cultivate it, it will grow and grow! This holiday season and perhaps as a goal for the New Year, think about what you can do to nurture the gift of imagination in your children:
Tell Stories - "Tell me a story Mom" - I can't even wager a guess on how many times I've heard that request. My husband and I love to make up stories for our boys. They often involve favorite characters from books or movies, good friends and neat places that we have visited. Usually, somewhere along the way, the kids will want to chime in and tell some of the story too. You should hear my husband's Lucky the Chicken series....man that chicken goes on some crazy adventures!
Read Books - This one's kind of a no-brainer, but there's nothing like a good book to really get your imagination running. We have boys, so of course we're well versed in the exploits of Harry Potter, Percy Jackson and the like. My 10 year old is moving into some historical fiction too - like Shackleton's Stowaway - a great story about a boy's adventure as a stowaway on a ship. Both our boys admit to making up imaginary games based on characters from books they have read. Gotta love it!
Go Adventuring - Whether it's a hike in the woods, a camping trip or a family vacation, kids get so much out of going new places and seeing new things. I love listening in spying on playdates sometimes and hearing the kids work in people they have met and places they have been into their imaginary play.
Foster Creativity - Sometimes kids need a little helping creating the space to inspire their imagination. Help them make a fort out of chairs, pillows and blankets. Get out the craft supplies to make props for their games. Have an assortment of dress-up clothes available for imaginary play. Anything you can do to keep them engaged will help!
Winter break just started and I have no doubt that my boys will be begging me for extra screen time during the next 2 weeks. Frankly, I don't have a problem with that as long as it is not all they do. Nothing makes me happier then when I hear them playing with their friends and letting their imaginations run wild!
What do you do to help cultivate your child's imagination?