8 Ways to Generate an Imagination in Kids
SPECIAL FROM Grandparents.com
Struggling to develop a sense of imagination can be difficult for kids as young as 4 years old. The experiences they’re having at school can mean they’re not being challenged or challenged them enough. And given that 80 percent of kids do not meet childhood developmental milestones by the end of the first year, early intervention is key.
“A common misconception is that when kids fail to meet developmental milestones they will get worse and worse,” said Charlotte Rapp, co-author of The Winning Table: Work, Play, and Family Fun That Keeps Kids Happy, Active, and Healthy. “That’s not the case. It can be a slow process. It takes many years for a child to develop the skills that will help him climb, run, jump, or wrap his arms around a toy.”
When we look at what kids may be doing when they’re not reaching milestones, we may see little to no imagination. Here are a few strategies kids and parents can use to create a stronger, more imaginative sense of play.
1. Establish new play patterns.
When a child is not seeking a particular type of interaction, that can indicate that he or she is not sure about their play style. Replace common distractions with new and different ones. If you’re watching a TV show but your child is underwhelmed by the robotic characters, try hosting a playdate with playing roles instead. The role reversal will be much more interesting.
2. Encourage them to play with more than just their hands.
Without playing with their hands at all, you’re not exposing them to the range of their senses. To help with imagination, play with every type of material available. If you have a standing drum or spoon, let your child use it and get ideas for new ways to play.
3. Sign them up for the kids’ division of labor.
Siblings can each be responsible for one end of a paper puzzle or installation on the family front window. Doing it this way will give each kid different opportunities to exercise their imagination.
4. Create outdoor and indoor activities together.
Let your kid create something big in a sandbox and then add pieces as she looks at things. This allows her to move around and experience many different modes of movement. When you’re in a hot place, set the refrigerator on fire and she can pretend to be the hero. Even if she stays safely indoors, the heat and movement will be fun for her to contemplate.
5. Listen to audio books together.
Let’s say you want to read Peter Pan to your son. Create a series of connected book-binding, the sound of a child running in a stream, or songs or stories involving the Moors and the Great Mouse Detective. Voice them in each another’s ears. Listen to each other as you read and actually enjoy the story more than reading it.
6. Program the mind to explore more and talk about it.
Have an instrument and let your 4-year-old create his own instrument. Or even buy a jar of clay and turn it into a new stick figure using his imagination. The activity will take him outside his comfort zone and encourage more imaginative play.
7. Ask them to try things.
Teach them to work on an experiment without making any decision. Ask them to imagine setting fire to a paper clip. As they make the final decisions, they’ll expand their vocabulary and improve their perception of the world.
8. Interact with older children and share more ideas.
Invite the boys over to practice martial arts at home. (If your girls need to learn to throw a party, invite the siblingy groups over for games of Jenga.)