The Magic of Play for your Child
How to Encourage Imaginative Play
Imaginative play begins in a child’s mind. But that doesn’t mean parents can’t join in. Here are some ways to encourage your child’s world of make-believe:
- Go along with it.When young ones leap through the air and tell you they’re flying, don’t tell them they’re only jumping. Instead, feed the fantasy: “Wow, you’re so high up! What can you see on the ground? Maybe you should take a rest on that nice puffy cloud.” Or even better, start flying with them.
- Choose old-fashioned toys.Blocks, dolls, arts and crafts, and molding clay are all toys that require creativity and therefore spur imagination.
- Limit electronic toys.Whether it’s a handheld entertainment system or a “junior” laptop, try to avoid toys that need batteries. Creativity is stifled when the toy, rather than the child, directs the play.
- Read to your child. And while reading, ask mind-opening questions: “If you were the caterpillar, what would you eat?” and “What do you think will happen next in the story?” This not only encourages imagination but promotes language skills and fosters an interest in books.
- Schedule downtime.Make sure kids have free time every day to play on their own. Aside from encouraging creativity, it teaches them to use their own resources to amuse or soothe themselves.
- Limit screen time.When kids watch a movie or even an educational program, they experience someone else’s make-believe world instead of exercising their imaginations. Some subjects on TV are not appropriate for preschoolers. Young kids also are more influenced by advertising since they can’t tell the difference between commercials and actual programs. The same goes for digital advertising inserted in online games and apps. Experts recommend that children over age 2 limit screen time, which includes TV, DVDs, computers, smart phones, and tablets, to no more than 1-2 hours of quality programming per day.