In a modern world full of screens, distractions and alarming articles about children’s decreasing attention spans, more and more parents are hoping their children will hold onto their imagination and their creativity. For good reason! Here’s why your child’s imagination matters.
Research suggests that many of us, especially children, are happier when they spend time creatively. Researchers of UNC Greensboro discovered that people are more likely to report feelings of happiness whilst doing something creative. As a parent, it’s likely you already know how boredom and inactivity can make a child suffer a spiral of negative feelings and frustration! Imagination is a great way to combat this.
Brain Growth and Personal Development
Imagination and imaginative play have also been shown as significant in brain growth and personal development. Imaginative play ensures children make associations and connections and develop their understanding of the world. Imaginative tasks can be created to better understand nearly anything, from job roles to seasons and science, and is a fun way of learning new things!
Social and Emotional Development
Children learn social skills by observing, imagining, and doing so in imaginative play with others. Activities such as role playing, uses practise to help them increase and better develop their emotional intelligence. An example would be in learning empathy. Imaginative play with others also teaches them how to share attention and items, and how to recognise and respond to each other’s feelings.
Nearly always, imaginative play will require language and communication with others. Ask children as they are playing what they are playing with and allow them the opportunity to find the words to explain. Introducing new children to an imaginative game also works on their language, as they explain to newcomers what the setting is and the purpose of their game.
Encouraging Imaginative Play
Most children are imaginative naturally, but there’s no harm in intentionally encouraging this as a parent. Setting a scene (such as a den, a doctor’s office etc) is a great way to kickstart their imaginative play. Introducing them to new experiences, such as a supermarket, a zoo, a park, is also important as it expands their understanding of the world and gives them more to imitate and play with. Props and dress up items enhance their imaginative play, and (mostly!) children love their parents getting involved – so long as you follow their rules!
At Bright Little Stars, we love imaginative play and all the benefits it brings!