If you think about it, any time you are faced with a problem, at any stage of your life, it is imagination that helps you to find a solution to that problem. Anyone who relies on knowledge or instruction alone for this will never master what they do. So how can you help your child to master imagination? It’s all about encouraging it in their play while they’re still young–here’s 5 quick tips to get your own creative juices flowing.
1. Look for Ways to Improve
One of the best exercises of the imagination is always asking, “How can I make this better?” You and your child can do this together. Look at everyday items in your house and brainstorm together what it would take to make that item more useful, more efficient, or even just more cool. Encourage them to find ways to take their art projects and creations to the next level or to keep expanding on it.
2. Teach Them to Observe
The data we take in from the world is the food for our imagination. Without input, output is limited. So teach your child to watch the world–to observe and analyze the things they see. This can be as simple as nature watching (or people watching) or as complex as conducting fun experiments to see what happens.
3. Ask Questions About their Work
When your child has created something, don’t just give your approval and then leave it at that. Ask them questions about it–this causes them to think about their own creative process as well as what they’ve made. The aim isn’t to criticize. Instead, you are aiming to keep their mind working on this project. You’ll find out things you never would have thought about why they created what they did, but you also may inspire them to keep working on it and make something far more complex because of a seed you somehow planted.
4. Let Them Learn to Improvise
Children don’t need all the best toys and most high tech video games to have a good time–take everything away from them and they will find something to play with. Buy them a present and watch them have a ball with the wrapping paper. Avoid the impulse to always keep them stocked up with flashy toys. Let them use their imagination to create their own toys.
Make it a point to make imagination and creativity a regular part of your child’s life. Any time you do something, think about how you can make it better or how you can use it as chance for them to exercise part of their brain. Doing so may even help you strengthen your own creative thinking skills.