When I was a little girl, my grandfather used to paraphrase Einstein’s quote about imagination being more important than knowledge. He would say something along the lines of:
“Anyone can read a book or take a class and learn something, but knowledge is meaningless if you don’t have the imagination to take it to new places.”
My grandfather was pretty much a pioneer in photography and the video industry, and he wanted to ensure that my imagination could take me anywhere I wanted to go. Without him and his wisdom, I don’t think I’d be even remotely close to the person I am today. He’s been gone for over two years now, and part of the way I honor his memory is by passing on his lessons to my own son. I strongly believe that imagination is one of the most attributes we can encourage in our children.
Ways to Encourage Your Child’s Imagination
- Read, read, read. I can’t stress this enough: if you want your child to have an active imagination, make sure reading is a major part of your lives. Books open up whole new worlds for children, and encourage them to explore beyond the confines of the “real” world.
- Play “what if” games.A simple question of “what if?” can open up a slew of opportunities for imaginative thinking. Make the questions as realistic or as outlandish as you want. I prefer the outlandish, such as “what would you do if you were given an entire planet to build however you wanted?”
- Give them multipurpose materials. Empty cardboard boxes, craft supplies, and even stuffed animals, action figures or dolls go a lot further towards encouraging imagination than toys with very specific uses and instructions. A cardboard box can become just about anything. Stuffed animals can have their own personalities and become playmates. Action figures and dolls can go on crazy adventures. I encourage Jake to make other things out of his Legos when the original creation inevitably falls apart.
- Turn on the music. Music inspires dancing, which inspires creativity, so play it often! Kids can make their own instruments and make up songs to perform for the family.
- Explore the great outdoors together. Exploring outside offers ample chances for imaginative thought. A walk in the woods can easily become a journey through a magical kingdom. A mysterious hole in the ground can lead to discussions about animals that may live in it, and how they spend their days. A tree can become a bridge to another world. Anything is possible in nature!
The great thing about imagination is that it really knows no boundaries and doesn’t require anything more than the ability to think. Encourage your children to explore often, and they’ll do the rest.
Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Kiddie Academy. As always, my thoughts are my own and are no way influenced by any other party.