At some point during childhood, every child is asked the question, “What would you like to be when you grow up?” Their answers are usually entertaining and unique. Many dream of becoming something really exciting or different – such as a professional athlete, astronaut, movie star, video game designer, pirate, candy taste-tester, and more. Their ideas are usually quite brilliant, when you stop and think about it.
What makes children think so differently from adults? One word: Imagination.
Imagination is incredibly powerful. It allows us to be curious and creative in ways we’ve never considered before. Imagination comes naturally to young children, but as our society becomes more dependent on technology, access to screentime, and various gadgets, we’re in real danger of seeing a decrease in active imagination among all age groups, including children. And that’s a real shame.
The word imagination is derived from the Latin word, imago, meaning image or picture. So, in essence, your imagination is your God-given ability to make mental images, pictures, and ideas. These “pictures” then lead to creative activity and the outpouring of powerful ideas! Imagination is the vehicle by which we grow our creativity, our attention, focus, and it’s extremely versatile. Think about how boring life would be without beautiful paintings, moving music, or powerful stories to enjoy…
Do you want your children to excel in their academics?
Well, let them imagine! Imagination helps children focus and in turn, this helps hone their comprehension skills. Imagination is a wonderful precursor for academic success. Just by imagining, your child will use several higher level thinking processes that will be needed as they grow academically. And, imagination allows your child to have access to unlimited creative freedom as they formulate new ideas.
Imaginative children also learn to be excellent problem solvers. They can work in their own “special imaginative way” to achieve their goals and see things happen in real life. Imagination helps them put order to chaos and explore the world around them in an effective way.
No Two Imaginations Alike
God made us each unique, and it’s no surprise that our imaginations are no different. Some children will naturally be more imaginative than others. You can grow and encourage a child’s imagination skills, but you cannot force it, either. The best thing a parent or teacher can do is to provide a welcoming space for their child or student to think imaginatively.
Great Ways To Foster Imagination:
- Pretend play is wonderful! Give your child plenty of time to pretend. Don’t force them out of the “pretend stage” too quickly either. There’s plenty of time to grow up. (Despite what the culture tells us.)
- Active play is important. Give your children time within their daily schedule to play outside, run, and explore. A good dose of nature seems to help boost creativity.
- Let your child problem solve with you. Include them in family decisions when it’s appropriate. This helps boost their confidence and you’ll never know what unique perspectives they will bring to the table!
- Allow your child to express emotions and ideas. Always expecting your child to be seen and never heard is a quick way to kill imaginative ideas.
- Read good books. Imagination grows with great literature! Listening to Audio Adventures such as With Lee In Virginia, Under Drake’s Flag, and In Freedom’s Cause will help your children naturally create pictures in their mind as they listen to the incredible stories.
- Surround your child with blocks, musical instruments, craft supplies and other imagination-building tools. Likewise, don’t sit them in front of screens for extended periods of time (or, at all when they are very young).
Being imaginative can have some great health benefits, too. Several studies have shown that more imaginative children tend to sleep better at night. Other studies have shown that imagination increases memory skills and can lead to better overall brain health as we age. Many psychologists also agree that being imaginative also helps children learn to be more empathetic.