Imagination is extremely important for your child’s development. Imagination is the ability to form a picture in one’s mind and things you have never seen or experienced.
Every child is born with an imagination. At times, parents and adults nurture their imaginations and take joy in their creative thoughts and acts.
At times, however, we might (deliberately or unknowingly) stifle their imaginations, perhaps out of concern that children can’t distinguish what’s real or not.
Five benefits of letting a child’s imagination run free:
1. Developing social skills
When a child engages in role play or imaginative play they are actively experimenting with actual life roles and these important skills are the stepping stones of children learning how to interact socially and develop social behaviours such as eye contact, voice tones and emotions.
2. Building self confidence
From the day a child is born they begin to grow in self-confidence and self-esteem by mastering new skills through imaginative play. It’s important to fuel this fire and encourage that sense of achievement. The more a child plays, the more they become confident to challenge themselves with more difficult toys and exploration activities.
3. Increasing intellectual growth
Pretend play invites a child to be faced with a variety of problems to solve. A child may act out a situation or it may naturally eventuate during their play. For example, a child may be “building” a house and need to find the right material to build the roof. That child will challenge important cognitive thinking skills for an answer they are happy with, learning skills that they will use in every aspect of life.
4. Practicing language skills
As adults, we are constantly being warned about how quickly kids pick up on our actions – the same goes with our words as we often hear children repeating words and phrases from adult conversations. When a child role plays they are coincidentally learning to experiment and understand the power of language. This type of play helps to boost their vocabulary, improve sentence structure and make connections between spoken and written language.
5. Working out fears
When children are able to role play out their fears such as being the Big Bad Wolf, they begin to gain a sense of control and are able to plan out ways to deal with them so these things start to seem less scary. Imaginative play is also a way for children to expel their feelings whether its anger towards a parent or sibling rivalry.
According to family websites, Chipmunks and Every Mum, there are great benefits to stepping back and watch a child develop through pretend play. We can even be pleasantly surprised and simply awed at a child’s ability to initiate and understand their surrounding and how to best deal with situations that are put in front of them – whether it be conflict with another child, listening to adults, or the learning of sounds and touch of the environment and new objects.