As a future parent I want my children to have everything. I want them to be intelligent and confident. I want to provide them with opportunities, and really I just want them to be healthy and happy until they day they die. I also want my children to be creative. Not an answer you hear a lot but it’s important to me. I don’t mean I want to birth the next Beethoven or da Vinci but I do want my children to have creative minds.
Creative minds don’t just focus on the arts- a creative mind thinks about all subjects in creative ways. Instead of being able to just regurgitate times tables a creative mind might actually be able to tell you that 24 is equal to 4 x 6 because it is also equal to 2 x 12. A creative mind understands things instead of just learning or memorizing them. Unfortunately creativity is lost in most schools. Art and music programs have almost been entirely thrown out and there is a greater focus on core subjects. Now I have no problem with math or science or language arts. Are they important? YES! But so is creative learning. So is imagination and playing. Schools tend to stop allowing imagination play at a certain age when children are supposed to grow up. But why should we stop imagination play if it expands our creative minds.
I am not saying that every parent should take their children out of school and play house every day until their 18, but as parents we should take some control of our children’s education. Doing simple creative projects with our kids and letting them define the rules. Promoting imagination play in our children and asking them to think about things for themselves instead of being taught what to think. Promoting creative minds in our children. Imagination play can be hard as adults. I’ve worked with children as a nanny and a teacher and I’ll tell you my creative mind is still a bit weak as are my imagination play skills. Here are some tips on how to do some imagination play with your kids:
1. Use your surroundings:
This tip can be used for really any of the following tips. Using your surroundings is a great way to start a game of imagination play. If you’re trying to think of something to do look around you. Something as simple as a car or a basketball can start a great game of imagination play. Don’t hurt your creative mind trying to do imagination play with your kids- you’ll want to do it less. Ease into it by using what is around you as props or ideas and become more creative as it gets easier.
2. Ask your children:
Ask your children what they think about stuff. Ask your children how they think something works, like a car or an airplane. Or ask them why they think the sky is blue or why the grass is green. Sure there is a real answer to these questions but let them use their imaginations to think about it and give you a creative answer. Eventually they’ll learn how it works, and you can even tell them later, but let them think through it with their creative minds. They might surprise you with how much they already know and if nothing else it’ll be entertaining. If their answer is short or just “I don’t know” ask them to tell you a story about it even if it isn’t right. Tell them to make something up or to just say the silliest reason that comes to their heads. If your kids aren’t supper into talking ask them to write about it or draw something.
3. Play “what if?”:
Sometimes children are too smart for their own goods and actually do know how cars work and why the sky is blue, so change it up a little and make them work out their creativity. Ask questions that promote creative thinking like “What if we smelled with our ears” or “What if cars could fly and we drove airplanes”. Keep up conversations like this even if it’s just by asking why. Or dust off your creative mind and do a little imagination play and contribute your own theories. A little imagination never hurt anyone and it’ll create great memories and bonding moments with your kids.
4. Do something “wrong”:
Break the rules a little, but not the big ones! Try walking around your house like a bear for an hour or eat lunch like a squirrel. Or if you’re doing an art project, draw the nose in the wrong spot or have the person have two colors of hair. Paint the sky orange and the grass purple. Do something that isn’t perfect and show your child that even things that don’t follow the standard rules can be fun and good. Change the idea that breaking rules is always bad and promote coloring outside the lines. A lot of people have done great things by doing something “wrong”. Don’t start driving on the wrong side of the road for your imagination play but do something against the norm with your children.
5. Follow their lead:
In imagination play your child is the expert. No offense but you’re a little past your prime when it comes to playing house now that you are living it. Your game is a bit rusty your creative mind a bit dusty and well your child will kick your trash. If your child is off in some dream land while explaining to you what life would be like if we walked on our hands don’t tell them they’re wrong and the only thing that would happen is people would have calloused hands and people would pass out a lot. Even though you’re technically right telling your child they’re wrong when their imagining kills their imagination. If you’re imagination playing that you’re bears and your child starts to hiss like a snake instead of correcting them ask them what they’re doing. Maybe it’s a rare mountain hissing bear only found near the North Pole. Have fun and follow your child’s lead and don’t let that grumpy fart of an adult inside stop you.