Inspiring ways to build your child's imagination
At a glance
- Developing your child's imagination gives them an appetite for learning.
- Making up stories with your kids helps to build their imagination.
- Talk to your child instead of letting the TV do the entertaining.
- Give your kids regular downtime with the computer and TV off.
- Let your young child paint the sky green if they want to.
Encouraging self-expression, play, even day dreaming, gives kids opportunities to think outside the box.
When Andrew Daddo was a lad, a house rule was ‘no TV after school'. Instead, he was either sent outside to play, or his mother would talk to him about what he had been up to at school. While getting a sentence out of the young Daddo was probably no easy feat, Andrew says the chats became a building block to his imagination – a tool that has helped him become a celebrated children's author.
"Mum set that up when I was seven years old. By the time I was at university I'd come home and recite lectures I'd found interesting," Andrew says.
Let them have a green sky and blue grass for as long as they can because then they'll realise it's OK to be a little bit interesting. Children's author
"When the TV is on, there is little or no thinking – instead of talking, everyone just sits around in a vegetative state. Even the smallest discussion about what we'd been up to that day had an impact on our ability to tell stories, and enhanced our relationship."
Imagination improves learning
Developing your child's imagination by encouraging their self-expression, play, even day dreaming, has great benefits to their life. According to Sir Ken Robinson, an international expert in learning, imagination is the "key driver of creativity and innovation" and helps children to "learn with a greater appetite".
Simple ways to build your child's imagination
Andrew, who has published favourite books including Skoz the Dog – All at Sea and Monster, says simple things in everyday life can help nurture your child's imagination.
"Turn off the TV and read to your kids. People spend hours, years writing great picture books and stories, and you might as well utilise someone else's time," he says.
Make up stories together
Making up stories and telling them to the kids is another great way to get your child's creative juices flowing as well as your own. Andrew says even if you think you're bad at storytelling it's a way to combine family time and creativity.
"The most important thing to remember is your kids will love you anyway, so they're not going to judge you on your bad storytelling – the fact you're there with them is what they love. They can also help you with the story – ‘Where do you reckon it should go next?'" he says. "It's giving the child licence to come up with ideas and to be part of the creative process. It makes them feel special – ‘we're in it together'."
A favourite game at the Daddo household is to all pile into one bed where Andrew tells a story which includes a word each of his three children has told him secretly, e.g. ‘banana', ‘clothesline' and ‘dog'. Each child has to guess their siblings' words.
"It's not outrageously creative or anything but it teaches children listening skills and comprehension ... so when it comes to writing their own things at school they're not scared of telling a story," Andrew says.
Downtime without the screen time
Having downtime to play also helps kids to unleash their creativity, he adds.
"Not video games or watching a movie but to be able to entertain themselves effectively because it makes them think," he says.
"If they go into the backyard or into their room they will find something to do every single time – if they can entertain themselves they've got a friend for life."
Paint the sky green
Andrew says building your child's imagination really comes down to encouraging them to explore the world through their own eyes, and to allow them to think their crazy thoughts without always correcting them if it's not realistic.
"It's having their head filled with ideas. Kids often say things that are really amazing but wrong, but it's how they see the world. Encourage them to do that – let them have a green sky and blue grass for as long as they can because then they'll realise it's OK to be little bit interesting."
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