Tuesday, January 20, 2015


I found it difficult to imagine what gifts I should buy for my grandson for his birthday and for Christmas. Buying for a four year old is difficult if you have been away from young children for a long time. I was thinking of what I could do to help him stimulate his imagination. Imagination is for me one of the keys for creativity and the world needs creative and imaginative people who have confidence and the ability to follow through with their dreams.

Imagination, is the ability to form new images and sensations that are not perceived through sight, hearing, or other senses and small children have this ability more than some adults, and rather than discourage we need to encourage this form of play.

Most experts agree on one point about early child development. In the first three years, the most important things parents can do is to establish a strong, nurturing relationship with their baby. This primary attachment creates the groundwork for self-confidence, the ability to learn new things, and the capacity for getting along with other people. Building a healthy relationship means picking your baby up, cuddling, responding to his or her cries. It means playing games, singing nursery rhymes, and reading aloud at bedtime. These seemingly innocuous activities, which many parents do without prompting, provide sensory input (sights, sounds, touch) that stimulates the young neurons and connections in your baby’s brain. This is an important form of learning.

Children start their imagination phase by the age of two. During this phase, they invent stories and cannot differentiate reality from fantasy.

Pretend play becomes more complex and interactive at three. It is no accident that preschools have plenty of props (plastic tools, kitchen gear, blocks, and dress-up clothes) for kids to pretend with.

Children learn by doing and imagining. When they pretend they are a police officer or parent, they have the freedom to explore at their own pace a world they are learning to navigate. They hold the power. They can express their emotions, punishing their pretend children as they've been punished. They learn to negotiate and solve problems (how to stop the bad guy or what to cook for dinner). They learn to walk in others' shoes, helping to develop empathy.

Creating stories about pretend characters encourages language development and abstract thinking. In addition, being able to see that a belt could be a lasso or a block could be an iPod is a precursor to realizing that those symbols on the page are actually letters and words.

To encourage imaginary play, have a stash of props handy for your children to explore boxes, clothes, shoes, household utensils, blocks, stuffed animals, and writing materials. Then step back and have fun watching what the props become.

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