Imagination! What does this mean? Is it creativity or mental imagery?
Imagination is a uniquely human ability which allows us to explore ideas of things that are not in our present surrounding sometimes not even real. What is imagined is generated from within. It is created from the memory, and is used in a whole variety of cognitive processes, including planning, hypothetical reasoning, picturing things in the past or the future, comprehending language, and, of course, in design and creativity in engineering and the arts.
It is, therefore, we need to improve aptitude for creative thinking and problem-solving skills while also setting them on a path to self-discovery at an early age. Here, some guidelines:
1. Engage them in passive activities – Reading aloud, or taking a walk outside will do much more than watching TV to develop a child’s creative side. Engage them in conversation, tell them stories, ask them questions that would prompt them to convey their thoughts or ideas.
2. Free play is the highest expression of human development in childhood – It has been shown to boost confidence, problem-solving skills, resilience, social-emotional connections and more. It is an unstructured and child-initiated activity but allows children to develop their imaginations while exploring and experiencing the world around them.
3. Let them explore new ways of using things – Provide them with different supplies that are harmless to play such as nontoxic finger-paint, markers, clays, play dough, clothes, and hats for dress-up, musical instruments, etc.
4. Keep them away from the mobile phones or schedule a time to use – Children today spent a lot of time on screens which does a little to develop imagination, communication skills, and a sense of wonder. Meals, for one, are an easy way to begin. Designate a container where everyone places their devices before the meal and witness how fun those meals become without screens getting in the way! Short rides are another time that can be tech-free.
5. Participate in creative play – Your presence and involvement can help the child develop broader vocabularies and more flexible thinking skills. So, be it finger-paint or the dress-up game, participate and try to tolerate the mess.
6. Encourage their involvement in the environment – Make a routine of taking them for a walk or a trip outside every day. Visit a garden to check on the vegetables and flowers or go on a “spy” mission around the block. There are many other small ways in which they can be involved with the environment, guessing the correct temperature can be one of the playful ways.
7. Encourage their creativity level – Even if it looks like a pageful of scribble to you, praise for whatever they create. This will encourage them to explore more and try their creative side more. In fact, display your child’s artwork on the refrigerator or over your desk.
8. Inject challenges into everyday life – Just about any activity can be turned into a game: How quickly can we set the table (time kids to see if they improve over time), how quickly can we get ready for school or bedtime, how many red cars will we see between here and there, who can fly this paper airplane the farthest, etc.
9. Facilitate different kinds of play – It’s important to provide multiple choices be it in play or place. Games that involve pretending, dramatic, creative, experimental, physical, competitive; with different group configurations such as solo, parent/child, peer-to-peer, small groups, mixed ages; and in varied settings including indoor, outdoor, parks, museums, in the car, at restaurants, at sibling’s events.
10. Don’t force if they don’t want it – Not every child would like to be involved in artistic projects. You want your child to realize that the creative process is a pleasure to be savored, not a chore to be endured.
At Oakridge, also one of the best International schools across India, we provide various opportunities that help kids develop their imagination and creativity effectively. Inter-campus student exchange programs, community service, strategic development programs, create-a-disguise, visual art, spelling bee, chairman’s cup, meet the author’, author study, quizzing, tongue twisters, puppet shows, storytelling sessions, JAM sessions, elocution, etc., are a few to name that help them with creativity development.