Children and imagination are two words that partner beautifully. Playing and imagining are exactly what tamariki are born to do. We did it ourselves, and we delight in the imagination of our wee ones as it is familiar and just ‘feels right’. We also have a tendency, as parents to wonder and worry and want to offer our children the best chances to be happy and healthy. So, we ask ourselves how we can help tamariki’s imagination, and keep the creativity squashers at bay?
One way we can look at it is with a less is more approach. What lessens the chances of their imagination blossoming, and what do they need more of so it can really take flight? Through this lens we can examine many influencers on the child – ourselves, the pace we set and the environment we offer.
● Tamariki need less of our helpful interference, and more time and space to dream up their own ideas and throw themselves into the expression of them. They are imagination extraordinaries’ if they have the freedom to dabble and delight in their own doings.
● They need less of the toys that teach, and more access to open ended materials, everyday objects and the absolute treasure trove that is Nature herself. Objects that can be anything mean that our children can create and play out one idea after the other.
● They need less haste and scheduling, and more stretches of uninterrupted downtime to play and potter as tamariki should. Imagination is in our children, but our fast-paced habits make it harder for it to be explored. Making more time means we allow for more opportunities for this all-important childhood staple.
● Tamariki need us to lose our fear of boredom (theirs and our own), and trust that they can and will find ways to play, imagine, and fill in their time. They do not need us to rescue them, direct them in their play and teach imagination when they are feeling short of inspiration. With space, sparks reignite.
● They need less enrichment classes and more of the truly enriching experiences that are simple, every day, family moments and activities. These are enrichment plus, for tamariki’s understanding of themselves and the world, but also their imagination. It is from the real that their creativity takes root and their imagination blooms. The more immersed in the ordinary they are, the more scenarios they have to rearrange, restructure, and recreate.
Imagination is like a magic carpet; it can take you anywhere!