After working with young children for several years, some things just become pretty noticeable to you. You realize what they do and don’t like, what games they like to play, and you realize that kids will definitely be kids as their imaginations never shut off.
A child’s imagination is definitely a very vital thing. Children are always thinking whether or not we know it, and their thinking helps solve problems, or help them cope with situations that in real life bother them in some way.
Through dramatic play, a common situation that parents and caregivers find young children in most of the time, is when children are make believing a certain situation, idea or place. Some children use dramatic play to imitate their parents. Whatever they see at home, they mimic through play, trying to sort out what goes on at home. If a female child sees her mother at home all day, cooking, cleaning, and doing other household chores, she may show this during play. If a boy sees his father using hammers, drills and screwdrivers in tasks around the home, he may play pretending to fix things for his ‘wife’.
While this is cute, it’s definitely not something that should be stifled in any way. Children need their imaginations to grow and to learn. It’s best to foster this creativity. One way to help bring it out is to ask open ended questions. Allow the children to answer questions in ways they’d like. Let them be creative and try to explain things in all different ways.
Painting is a wonderful way to bring out their creative side. Finger paints or brushes work well. Give them paper and let them go, painting whatever they choose. Ask questions while they are doing so. What is it? What does it eat? Why did you pick that color? Let them talk as much as they want. You’d be surprised to see it doesn’t take much to get children talking about their artwork. Do not be surprised however if they change their minds half way through and decide it is now something else and not what was said earlier. That’s ok. Many parents choose coloring books and give them to their child, feeling as if this is doing the job.
It is, but it is not allowing a child to openly express themselves. Coloring books are just for coloring. They take a crayon or other object and color what is given to them. They’re not allowed to think for themselves. Open ended items are always great for creativity and the imagination.
Small musical items are nice as well. It’s a hands on activity that will allow the children to make music in whatever way they wish. An empty butter container will work just fine for this, as it allows the child to beat on it as if a drum, will allow them to dream up beats and songs in their head. A small recorder flute which can be purchased from any dollar store, will also allow them to play music. This may get annoying to the parent after awhile, so it is important to allow times for music and times for other activities. It’s important to stimulate the mind with different items, instead of the same item over and over again for the child may get bored.
If you see your child in a make believe situation, join them. Ask questions, and most importantly play along and by their rules. Suggest something now and then, but if they don’t like it, do what they want. More than likely, you’ll learn something from this task. If they are afraid of the doctor, they may act out situations during play of which you can catch on to and have a talk with them later on about. Hopefully you’ll be able to help them through what is bothering them.
The years between age two and up are very critical and it’s important you help them grow and develop into the children you want them to be. There are endless possibilities to helping children grow their imagination if only you grow yours too.