Adults often think that children have strong and active imaginations simply because they are children. And while some children naturally have a stronger imagination than others, for many kids, it takes some time for that to develop and strengthen. For parents, who may not believe that they have an imagination themselves, it can be challenging to help foster that sense in their kids.
At Madame Curie School, we believe that a child’s imagination is a powerful tool that can help them be successful today, whether they are a preschooler or a first grader, and into the future. Our preschool strives to be a place where children can practice using their sense of imagination through art, music, and even math and science. But what is imagination? Why is it important? And how can parents help foster a strong imagination at home?
What is Imagination?
So many times when we think about imagination, we think of kids coming up with stories of dragons, monsters, worlds filled with magic, or when kids play a game of pirates. Yes, these are great examples of what a strong imagination can think up, but it’s also so much more than just being able to imagine things that aren’t real. Having an imagination also means being able to form new ideas or concepts; it’s thinking creatively, and it’s thinking or acting in a way that utilizes past experiences in order to solve problems and learn new things. Kids and adults’ minds are wonderfully complex organs that can think up just about anything, but it takes time and practice for this to develop.
Why Are Strong Imaginations Important?
Simply look at the environment around you now and you can see why having an imagination is important. Maybe you’re reading this blog on your phone, maybe the room you’re in has ceiling lights, maybe your backyard where you’re watching your preschooler play has a well-designed landscape — none of these things would be possible without someone having an imagination. But aside from an imagination helping build and create new products or designs, having an imagination can also help kids in a variety of ways.
- Kids use their imagination to learn and understand what other kids are feeling — they develop empathy.
- Kids are able to look at a situation from a variety of different angles or viewpoints.
- It can strengthen confidence.
- Helps kids think outside the box.
- An imagination can help distinguish them from others.
- An imagination encourages creativity.
- Helps kids envision the future and their part in it.
How Parents Can Foster a Sense of Creativity
Now that you have an understanding of what an imagination is and why it’s such an important tool for kids to develop, let’s dive into how parents can help nurture a sense of imagination in their children. At Madame Curie School, we have years of experience teaching kids to look at the world around them through curious eyes, helping them to ask questions about how things work, and how they can use their imagination to learn new things. If you want help understanding how a child’s imagination works or how to help it grow stronger, get in touch with our preschool staff today!
Give Them Tools
If you were ever stuck on a problem, you’ll understand that sometimes you just need a spark of inspiration to break through the rut. Some kids are able to play and entertain themselves without physical toys or objects, but for many children, it takes something to spark their imagination. Whether it’s a paint set, a cape, a guitar, or even just your backyard, giving your kids the tools they need to get started can go a long way in developing their imagination. In addition, if you simply give them a paint set, give them some guidance as well if they are a little slow to start. Ask them to paint a picture of their favorite place, ask them to describe their dreams, or ask them to act out a play with their favorite characters.
Give Them Space
Unfortunately, having an imagination can be pretty messy sometimes. If you can, give them plenty of space to play and move, set up a dedicated art space, let them cover your driveway with chalk drawings, take them to the park and let them run around, or go to the zoo. When kids are cramped up inside watching TV or if they have their nose in a tablet, it will be harder for them to practice using their own imagination.
Asking questions is a great way to help kids talk through problems, discuss why they did something the way they did it, or to simply let them explain what they are working on. Anyone who has been around a curious preschooler will know that they like to ask countless questions. Rather than limiting the number of questions they ask you, begin turning the questions around and asking them what they think. And don’t be afraid to be a little silly when you’re answering the million inevitable “why?”s. Why do cows eat grass? To stop the grass monsters from growing and taking over the world, of course.
Help Them Socialize
In many cases, completing a project at work is more efficient, fun, and you’ll get better results when you’re working in a group. It’s the same with kids. When you put two, three, or four kids together and tell them to create a fort, they will undoubtedly create the most fantastic and wonderful fort ever and they will be able to play in it for hours or even days! Kids do naturally have great imaginations, but putting kids together is like multiplying the opportunity for creativity and thought.
Helping a kid’s imagination grow is often a hands-off lesson for parents. When you try to tell them how to paint, what to paint, or what colors to use, they are automatically trapped into those parameters. Instead, give them some paints and some paper, and let them do their thing! Let them go outside with some friends, and let them be kids! It may take some time, but they will figure out what to do on their own, and this is what a developing imagination looks like.
Encourage Your Own Imagination
Our imaginations stem from what our minds come up with, and our mind is a muscle that takes exercise to develop. One of the best ways to help your child develop their imagination is for you to practice yours! When your child is playing tea with their dolls, ask to join, and pretend that you’re a grandmother who is allergic to milk, or that you’re a little boy who has a crush on another person at the table. Or, if you’re looking for more grown-up ways to practice your imagination, get out your own paint set, pick an instrument to learn, write a story, invent something — your child will watch you being creative and may mimic what you’re doing.
A strong sense of imagination can be incredibly powerful and useful. Even though your preschooler may not be inventing the next big thing right now, it can help them be more successful throughout their school years and into their careers. Madame Curie School is passionate about helping children grow into curious learners with active imaginations. If you’re looking for a preschool in the Chantilly or Herndon area, get in touch with our staff today for a tour.