Thanks to all the parents’ comments and interest in helping their children discover the many beauties of life. For all the enthusiastic storytellers, drama lovers, here is another episode. Have fun with this joy! Happy Imaginative Christmas!
TEACHING THE JOY OF IMAGINATION & CREATIVITY
The Child’s Perspective
I came in the back door one afternoon, quietly, getting home from work early. Before anyone heard me, I heard my two girls, ages five & four, in their bedroom.
“All right, I’ll be the doctor if you’ll be the nurse.”
“Now if we can get Barney (the dog) to stay under these covers, then he can be the sick guy.”
“Yeah, & this stick can be for the operation.” (I restrained my urge to defend the poor dog.)
“We’d better put the sick guy to sleep before the operation.”
“These can be the sleep pills.”
“Oh, but Barney won’t close his eyes. I better sing him a song–then he can stay awake & it won’t hurt. Oh sick guy, sick guy, you have a big, long tongue, we will do your operation, & you’ll look better & feel better too.”
Children’s minds are the most free, the most creative, the least bound by inhibition & tradition. Therefore, it’s easy to teach them creativity & imagination. Unfortunately, it is also dangerously easy to say, “That’s silly,” or “Grow up,” or “Quit imagining things.” It is an interesting paradox that the times when parents usually tell their children to be grown-up are the times when the children are having the most fun, feeling the most joy. Do we really want them to grow up, or would we do better to “grow down,” to be more like they are–more free, more imaginative, less inhibited?
A child who imagines will become an adult who creates, who solves problems with original thinking & with innovative solutions, who will see the less obvious, do the less common, find the more unusual.
Oh, how children love it when they find that their parents have imaginations! I went up to tuck the two little girls in bed one night after shoveling the snow from the front walk. I still had on my big, white furry coat, so I pulled the hood down over my face & announced myself as “Polar Bear,” come from the North Pole to tell a bedtime story. Since then, Polar Bear has had to come back once a month or so–alternating with other characters made up from very slight disguises & very big imaginations.
The old stand-by: Liberal encouragement. Give enormous encouragement for the slightest show of creativity–from building with blocks to drawing a picture. Watch as though a masterpiece were being unveiled. Sometimes encouragement involves more than just words. It may involve providing reams of scratch paper for the three-year-old to make pictures on.
The other old stand-by: Being a child with them. When they imagine, we imagine. Play in the mud with them, for a change. Don’t inhibit through restricting any more than is absolutely necessary.
Making things. Don’t buy things ready-made when you can buy kits or make them from scratch. Think of ways to make musical instruments (rhythm blocks, scrapers) & other simple, useful things.
1. Save old dresses, shoes & hats in a box or chest for dress-up clothes. What treasures they can be to an active imagination!
2. Pretend that inanimate objects & body parts can talk: Food that wants to be in the tummy, toys that want to be played with, ears that want to be washed.
Solving problems. Play the “How else could we have done that?” game. Examples: How could we get a chair over here without carrying it? (Tie a rope on it & drag it.) How could we get a marble from under the sofa? (With a stick.) How could we keep the tablecloth down at a picnic on a windy day? (With rocks.) How could we carry many things at once? (In pockets, in a box.)
Creating through the ear. Sing together. Children can sing simple harmony parts early if helped properly.
Creating through the eye. Bring out crayons, tempera paints & watercolour markers, & paint together as a family. Praise each painting as unique & good, none better than the other. Provide the medium, let the children use their own ideas.
The bulletin board. We’ve dubbed our bulletin board “The Mommy-Daddy Proud Board.” Our children’s drawings & colourings & creations of all kinds stay up until new ones take their place, at which point they come down & go directly into the scrapbook. Children, like all artists, need appreciation & praise to fuel their creative fires.