My son just turned two. Two! I can’t believe it! Where has the time gone? Lately, I have found myself just thinking about everything he has done and learned over the last two years…and it seems SO much. He learnt to sit, stand, walk, run, jump, drink, and eat, and now he can talk and so much more!
So why with these very important life learning steps is imagination and pretend play crucial for a child’s development?
Studies now show that imagination is vital to help understand reality. It has been proven that children who pretend play can be a key role in understanding someone else’s perspective. It can also help them be strong socially and more confident with new situations and learning new things.
My son, who loves water, always wants his bath at night to the point where he will start to climb into the tub as soon as we mention the word! And I thought, “Great! He will love the beach!” Wrong. He thought the waves were scary, and yes – looking through his eyes, they are. They are fast moving and loud! My book, The Beach, shows that you can use your imagination through story to encourage beach play. The sea can be so much fun when you can imagine yourself riding on a sand dragon that you built at the beach!
“Logic will get you from A to Z, Imagination will get you everywhere!” – Albert Einstein
Imaginary friends have received a bad rep over the years. Some seem to think this is a bad sign, but it’s the opposite. It means your child is using his or her imagination to help in a time of need, in overcoming a new situation or stress, or simply exploring new ideas or taking care of another. Children are problem solving, which is such an amazing tool later in life.
My son is going through a phase where he thinks everything is real – the car, all his toys, and even the door stop duck, which we must say hello/goodbye and give cuddles to whenever we come and go from the house. Haha. It’s endearing, and, yes, it does take a long time to get ready in the morning and for bed at night when you have ten friends participating in story time, with each one needing a kiss goodnight. And, no. You can’t miss one! But I love it, and it’s great how he cares for all their needs and that they are included, even when each one must take part in making dinner. You know he is learning so much!
In my third book, The Sandpit, Max imagines dinosaurs are alive, and he helps them get out from a rock face where they have been stuck for the longest time!
So, encouraging imagination can just be small things. You don't have to teach them Santa Claus is real if you don't want to, or that there is a Tooth Fairy. But you can make it as simple as reading a storybook or asking if Teddy wants to join the family for dinner. This morning Bob the Builder in Duplo had to sit on the toilet (Ahhh! the toilet training phase!)
All I know is imagination is fun, and I’m learning a thing or two as well!
READ, PLAY, IMAGINE!