IMAGINATIVE PLAY – Remember “make believe” when you were a kid? Wasn’t it fun? Well, it turns out that it was not just fun, it was good for you! When children engage in play in which they imagine something that is not real – dress up, role/fantasy play using books and videos as a basis (or making up entirely new situations), using objects in ways they aren’t intended (a rock as a choo choo running down the track, a stick as a light saber), even an imaginary friend - they are developing important traits and skills related to creativity. And, research has shown that the more emotional content children display during imaginative play, the better they are at coming up with creative ideas in other situations.
How imaginative play is related to creativity
What to do:
- Tell stories/read books; these will become fodder for much imaginative play
- Provide unstructured time!
- Model imaginative play – engage in “pretend play” with your children. You can be explicit, walking them through the steps of an imaginary activity
- Provide play areas, special places void of distractions – especially electronic ones
- Provide props – nothing fancy, but allow wide interpretations of household items.
- Encourage imaginary friends
- Ask low impact questions. Don’t draw the child out of the imaginative play but extend the play.
- Don’t criticize! In fact, the less feedback you give the better. If they think George Washington was born in Hawaii, that’s okay! It’s imaginative play.
- Video record the imaginative play – occasionally – especially if they want you to do so.
- Allow a mess.
© Elizabeth Fairweather and Thomas Fairweather, 2015