A vivid imagination is a beautiful thing. Watching our children build worlds far beyond anything they have ever seen in real life is one of the best things about being a parent.
How magical are their ideas! For a long time, make-believe was considered a way for our children to escape from the concepts of reality which are too difficult for them to understand. Because of this, we have often undervalued imaginative play. We now know imagination and role-play are vital for our child’s development. Child-development experts assure us that it helps our children understand the world.
So, while we let their imagination run free, how can make-believe prepare our children for the real world?
Making Sense of their World Through Imagination
When our children are engrossed in imaginative play, they are involved with learning which helps them to identify with the adult world. As they play "shop", or pretend to cook the dinner, they are experimenting with what is around them.
They uncover new tastes, sounds, smells and touch. Absorbing these experiences help them make sense of their world, their place in it and how to react to it. Their imagination reassures them of what they do and don’t like.
Free Play – Undirected and Unrestricted
Social, emotional and language skills are all encouraged by our children’s wide imagination. As they re-enact certain situations and experiences, they take on a variety of roles which encourage discipline, nurturing, sympathy and empathy.
They practise social skills as they take turns with friends and learn to understand body language and communication. It also helps them to make sense of the scary things as they control the make-believe narrative involving monsters, dinosaurs and bad guys. It is a place where they can make and break the rules.
Encouraging the Creative Spark
Imagination and make-believe encourage creativity which is where some of the most prominent and pioneering creations have come from throughout our history. Our children are much like the scientists, artists, engineers and writers who think outside of the box. Allowing our children’s imaginations to run free encourages free-thinking and independence.
Creating a Vision for Their Future
Children can be seen to create a vision for their future from such an early age. If your child imagines herself as a scientist, it may very well become a reality. Her imagination already encourages her as she practises negotiation skills, decision making, problem-solving, and she experiments with solutions.