While mastering the skills of reading, writing and arithmetic are important building blocks of a good education, this academic knowledge is not the only area of importance when it comes to your child’s overall development and well-being. Important lessons and life skills can be learned and cultivated beyond the books using a little creativity and imagination. Not yours, but theirs.
Creativity involves the use of the imagination, or the formation of original ideas. Encouraging creativity stimulates mental growth and helps children develop their critical thinking, decision-making and problem-solving skills. In addition, stimulating a child’s imagination can, among other things, sharpen memory skills and help develop cognitive skills.
Creativity is vital to a child’s overall mental, physical and social well-being. Encouraging creativity and imagination in your children can help them mature into well-adjusted adults. Here are three ways to do so:
1. Limit Screen Time.
When children focus their attention on televisions, computer screens and other technological devices, they are learning about the world in an artificial way. And, rather than being in control, children simply become the passive recipients of visual and auditory stimulation. While screen time can be entertaining, due to its passive nature, too much can be unhealthy both mentally and physically. To stimulate creativity and imagination, limit your child’s screen time and encourage your children to participate in other activities that will stimulate his mind and his body.
2. Encourage Free Play.
While structured play and organized activities such as team sports or other youth development programs can be beneficial to your child, these adult-controlled activities force her to follow adult rules and concerns, limiting her ability to develop creatively. Find a way to strike a balance between structured, adult-led activities and child-driven play that will give her the opportunity to move at her own pace, practice decision-making skills, discover her personal areas of interest and protect her against the effects of stress and pressure.
3. Read To/With Your Child.
Reading not only improves your child’s literacy skills, it can also spark his imagination. When stories are told through other means such as on television or in the movie theater, your child is at the mercy of another’s imagination. Reading, however, affords him the opportunity to use his own mind to re-imagine the sights, sounds, and other sensory stimuli by seeing or listening to the words of the narrative. While reading, take the time to ask your child about the characters you are reading about. What do they look like? How should they sound? When you get to the end of the story, challenge your child to us his imagination to come up with his own alternative ending to the story.