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One of the absolute joys of parenting is to watch your child’s imagination develop. Hearing them interpret their world, create scenarios, and invent experiences can be a huge source of inspiration for us as adults. But imagination is so much more than something our children do to keep themselves (and us) entertained. Imagination is an essential super skill, and it is the foundation on which your child will build the core capacities they need to thrive in tomorrow’s world.
You’re not just imagining it. Imagination is powerful.
Some of the greatest minds in history have talked about how imagination has been the key to their success. Einstein once said imagination is more important than knowledge. Why? Because when it comes to learning, knowledge and facts are important building blocks, but imagination is the synthesis of that knowledge.
Building blocks are just building blocks until a child sits down, learns how to use them, and then harnesses their imagination to create something extraordinary. Imagination drives discovery and that’s why it is so important – it ignites the cycle of learning i.e., curiosity – exploration – repetition – mastery. When a child is using their imagination, they are typically fully immersed in whatever it is they are doing/learning. This sort of intrinsic motivation is how imagination in childhood becomes a lifelong love for learning.
Imagine the world in 20 years’
As our children move through the schooling system, imagination is often replaced by an emphasis on aligning career choices with the current job market. While academic achievement is as important as STEAM skills are, it is not the full picture of what it means to get our children ready for the future.
The world they will live and work in is one where all the jobs that can be done by machines, will be. Imagination isn’t just key to learning, it’s also the foundation for developing 5 critical core capacities: creativity, collaboration, problem-solving, executive function and self-regulation. These core capacities are essential if you want to adequately prepare your child for an innovation economy.
Computers can’t learn creativity. They don’t understand empathy; they can’t work with other computers in a team or persuade people to take a certain direction. These are the skills or core capacities that our children need to live, work, and play in a technologically advanced society.
So, how do you encourage imagination in your little one?
Let their imagination run wild
Imaginary or pretend play is the number one way to nurture your child’s imagination. Here are some ideas for incorporating imaginary play into your everyday routine:
- Invent scenarios and encourage your child to do the same. Play house, school, space station, zoo, shop, or farm.
- Use items from around the house in combination with their toys as props (pots & pans for a restaurant imaginary play game, for example).
- Spend time outdoors. The natural world inspires all of us, and children are no exception. Even asking your little one what shapes they can see in the clouds is a simple but effective way to spark their imagination.
- Ask open-ended questions. Play around with different words for lyrics and rhymes. Get a bit silly and have fun!
Lastly, choose childcare and education for your child that uses play as a tool for learning. At the centre of our curriculum at Play Sense is imaginary play. We know the power of imaginary play to develop your child’s cognitive and core capacities – it’s just one of the reasons that Play Sense is loved by mums and little ones. If you want more information about how to encourage your child’s imagination through play, contact us.