Promoting Imaginative Play in Children - Practical Suggestions
By Andrew Loh
Children, who indulge themselves in a make-believe world when they are
growing up, are more likely to perform better than their peers who do
not play in a make-believe world. Imaginative play or thoughtful play,
as experts call them, are among the best tools to promote quicker
learning and mastery of several life and scholastic skills. An
international expert on child education, Ed Miller, believes that “play
is how children make sense of world around them. It is how they deal
with stress and disappointment” (Read one of the best articles on “
Why Children need to play in school”).
The author also believes that all children start playing imaginatively at the age
of three and they get active as they reach the age of five. One
important fact that everyone should remember is that the benefits of
imaginative play last longer and many older children still enjoy
imaginative playing by using the power of their minds.
Parents' responsibilities and basic duties increase if they want to boost
imaginative play in their children. Before initiating the process to
teach imaginative play, they may want to follow some simple rules:
Design and create an imaginative-play friendly environment
within the four walls of the house: Children create their
preferred playing space in your house. Some of the places that they like
are nooks and corners of a room, an open space like the backyard garden
or even on the steps of a staircase. In fact, they do not like the busy
areas of a home like kitchen, dining room or visitors' room. Children
like protected spaces where it is quiet and protective so that they can
open their box of imagination to play creatively. One of the most loved
play set is a play tent that provides ample protection for children to
play without any trouble and hindrances.
Bring home toys that allow children to indulge in multi-tasks:
Conventional toys that boost imaginative play are colored balls, building tools,
mechanical toys, dolls, kitchen sets, doctor tools, art supplies,
painting materials, and cartoon sets. Make sure that the toys and play
sets you purchase should be capable enough to allow children play in an
imaginative manner. All toys should be open ended and they should pose
questions rather providing answers.
Explore exterior spaces like public gardens, malls, libraries and trekking trails:
Children are ready to learn from any type of environs including
home and its exteriors like gardens, libraries, trekking trails or
camping sites. Now, take your children outside and let them explore
nature and surroundings. Let them play with garden soil, make castles in
sea sand, build tree twig houses in a camp corner and study plants and
animals that play and make merry in the wild nature. Let them use their
brainpower and create numerous learning possibilities. Ask other parents
to join in the adventure so that all children in your neighborhood get
Do not be too intrusive and instructive:
Remember that any activity that you initiate should be children-centric
and they should have a say in the type of activities. You can just make
suggestions or provide inputs and not tell them how they can do it. When
children are playing together, never act as a referee to choose the best
game. Let the children be children and do not interfere. When children
play as a team, they will learn three important things in life-
self-control, anger management and delayed gratification.
Things to consider and buy for your children
Before initiating activities that enhance imaginative play, you may wish
buy and purchase several important tools, toys, play sets and materials.
Here are some of them:
Buy art supplies and materials - Pencil,
markers, different paints that are non-toxic and safe, crayons, gum,
paper, chalks, art papers, paint brushes, color pens etc.
Create an art center in your house - You may want to create a thoughtful
art and painting center in one of the corners of your house. Provide
necessary utilities to your children so that they can use them to
Collage, printed materials, poster and other
necessary supplies - Provide a boxful of collage supplies that contain
paper cuttings, color posters, wallpapers, feathers, pictures and
textured samples. Make sure to supply play dough, play clay materials
and modeling wax too.
Provide a space to display finished materials - Another useful utility
is a space to advertise finished materials that might include painting, patterns,
drawing, models or even paper craft.
Create a small stage for drama and acting - Drama
and acting along with role-play are important tools to enhance
imaginative play. Create a small space for drama, role-playing and
Purchase a dressing and makeup trunk - Bring home drama
and acting gowns, T-shirts, hats, ties, coats, costumes, ornamental
materials like necklaces, bangles, crowns, hair dressing materials,
blankets, and other materials.
Introduce dramatic play - This is
one of the best methods to teach children a number of skills. Pretend
play sets and toys like kitchen items, doctors and nurses materials,
engineering tools and camping tools always help children to get active
in imaginative play.
Record how children play, act and behave -
Children just love to see themselves in pictures and videos. Capture
moments of joy when children are playing and acting. Show them final
shots and ask them to improve the way in which they play and act.
Another useful tool is a large mirror that helps children look and
admire themselves and correct their postures and mannerisms.
Set a puppet theater - Playing with puppets is a nice idea for enhancing
imaginative play. A small puppet theater will help children learn a
number of skills apart from learning imagination and creative thinking.
Create an engineering and building section for boys - Boys always
like to play with tools that relate to building houses and bridges,
arranging blocks and patterns, or design and create engineering
structures like rail lines, building roads or ships. Choose play sets
that contain individual building items that demand advanced thinking and
imaginative skills from children.
Options and possibilities are unlimited. You can create any type of environs
that help children learn important skills like thinking and imagination. However,
ensure that you are not confusing children with too many materials and tools that could
be counter-productive in the end. Choose only those activities that keep
them busy for at least two hours in a day.
Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul
By Stuart Brown M.D., Christopher Vaughan
Dr. Brown has spent his career studying animal behavior and
conducting more than six- thousand "play histories" of
humans from all walks of life-from serial murderers to Nobel
Prize winners. Backed by the latest research, Play (20,000
copies in print) explains why play is essential to our
social skills, adaptability, intelligence, creativity,
ability to problem solve and more. Particularly in tough
times, we need to play more than ever, as it's the very
means by which we prepare for the unexpected, search out new
solutions, and remain optimistic.
A fascinating blend of cutting-edge neuroscience, biology,
psychology, social science, and inspiring human stories of
the transformative power of play, this book proves why play
just might be the most important work we can ever do.