These days children are spending more and more time in front of screens, and less time actively playing and using their little imaginations. With smartphones, tablets, and TVs the average child actually spends around 6 hours a day in front of a screen, which is a shocking figure.
This screen time is a very passive activity which does not allow your child to use their imaginations. Imagination in childhood is absolutely key to a child’s development and something that must be nurtured actively by parents.
Imaginative play builds language skills, helps to nurture creativity, and also builds social skills, so it really is vital that you help your little ones to engage in these activities. So how can you help to encourage imaginative play? Read on for our advice.
Reading should be a regular part of your little one’s routine as it is a wonderful way of getting their imaginations flowing. Reading stories to your children is very important before they are old enough to read for themselves, and once they do learn to read you should encourage them to spend a lot of time reading on their own too.
Let them choose their own books and let them have control over their own choices, and make sure they have a safe and cosy environment to get lost in a book so that they can truly feel comfortable exploring stories for themselves.
Let them build things
I’m sure we all have plenty of fond memories of building dens and even entire worlds out of things in the house or garden. Children love to create things out of other things and dream up scenarios, so make sure you make this accessible for them.
A great idea is to help them build a pillow fort or a castle out of boxes. Having a dressing up box where they can pick different outfits is also a lovely way to help them create fun characters to live in the worlds they build.
Let them come up with their own ideas, and try to avoid giving too much input or restricting them unless there is a real danger.
Join in with their games
While playing alone is important, having somebody else to play with bits of help to develop your little one’s social skills. Make sure that they have children their own age to play with as they will learn a lot from each other when it comes to things such as conflict resolution and empathy, but also spend plenty of time playing with them yourself. Little ones love to play with mum or dad!
Let your child take the lead on any games and try to let them do any problem solving for themselves without stepping in. And of course, play the role that they have chosen for you, however silly it may be. Have fun together!
Let them copy you
Children spend a lot of time observing what the grown-ups around them are doing, and often they like to mimic what they have seen. This is a great opportunity for you to teach them by example and be a good role model, so be aware that they are always watching what you are doing.
Kids love toys that let them pretend to do adult tasks, such as play kitchens, little toolkits, and dolls prams. These sorts of activities allow them to put themselves in somebody else’s shoes and imagine playing a particular role!