I remember many hours from my childhood that were filled with imaginary play. Passing that gift along to my children has been a blessing. They involve themselves in all sorts of pretend play, usually triggered by books they have read.From Mary and Laura in Little House on the Prairie to Meg and Jo from Little Women, there are few age-appropriate literary characters that they haven’t been.
If you would like to encourage your child’s imagination, these are five ideas that I’ve found helpful.
- Read books. We have been reading books together since before they were born! Including various types of stories can develop different interests. Even though both of our children are girls, we read our share of Richard Scarry and Thomas the Tank Engine when they were younger.
- Participate in pretend play with them. Act out stories using dolls, stuffed animals or action figures. Let your child become different characters by dressing up in old clothes of yours or in costumes that are their own size.
- Keep toys simple. If they have blocks, they can build anything they desire. Kitchen accessories lend themselves to tea parties with dolls or imaginary guests while toy cars can race around a track or drive “daddy” to work.
- Limit media exposure. If a cartoon writer or television show producer is filling your child’s mind with his own imaginings, there is less of a need for the child to create his own.
- Allow for plenty of free time. Don’t schedule every hour with activities; rather, let your children have the time and space to generate their own play.
How else do you help your child develop his/her imagination?