Is there anything more magical than the imagination of a child? I remember vividly some of the most beautiful moments of my childhood, some of which existed totally inside my own imagination. I remember my younger brothers and I spending long rainy days turning our bedroom doors (which faced each other on a landing) into shop fronts. Days spent “selling” each other our toys and other belongings and then buying them back. I remember boxes turned into cars and trees turned into castles. I remember imaginary friends and backyards that became jungles and swamps.
We live in a fast paced, technology-lead world that is vastly different to the social landscape that we ourselves grew up in. Whilst we had TV we didn’t have computers and smart phones and tablets. When we were children we weren’t surrounded by technology the way our children are, our parents weren’t constantly attached to a screen. There is a lot of social discussion on what this change in our social landscape may do to the experience of childhood. No one really knows yet. Not enough time has passed to really know. One thing I know is that I am constantly amazed at my one year old’s ability to unlock my phone, navigate the screens, open apps and play actual games… without any assistance whatsoever. It blows my mind.
I think most people would agree that finding a balance between technology and screen-free time is really important for kids (and adults too!), and as parents it is our responsibility to navigate this new field in the best way we can. I have been doing a lot of research on imaginative play and the importance of both play and imagination on the development and growth of our tiny humans. Imaginative play is the very foundation of nurturing social and life skills that our kids will one day use as adults in the outside world. It’s also a huge part of the joy that comes from childhood. I don’t think you need to teach kids to play, they know. Just like the day when the baby truly hears the music, he begins to dance… one day the child discovers a world of his own, and he begins to play. The child never needs to be taught, it’s already in him, but a little facilitation might be necessary sometimes. Turning off the TV, giving kids access to toys that don’t “do” something, toys that they can use to create a world of their own. Toys that need not be “toys” at all. Pots and pans, cardboard boxes, spoons and bowls…
Bo has just begun to truly immerse herself in the world of play and it is a beautiful thing to watch. To watch as she potters around the house, clearly in her own world, filling bags and singing songs and feeding babies and reading stories to her little friends. It’s so beautiful. It fills me with so much joy.
Over the next few weeks I’m going to share with you some ideas for encouraging imaginative play that you can use in your own house with your kids. I’m not a big fan of toys that “do” things, in fact, Bo doesn’t have any toys that have batteries, she probably will one day but she doesn’t yet. This is something I’m really passionate about and I’d love, LOVE to hear some of your ideas!
How do you encourage imaginative play?