The Value of Imagination in Early Childhood
As infants grow into toddlers and toddlers grow into preschoolers their imagination explodes. Everything around them suddenly becomes something they can transform into their "pretend world." A child's imagination is an important learning tool in their growth. Through imaginative play they learn in-directly about real-life situations, develop their vocabulary, and develop the ability to create, organize and perceive.
As infants grow into toddlers and toddlers grow into preschoolers their imagination explodes. Everything around them suddenly becomes something they can transform into their "pretend world." Necklaces become princess tiaras on their head, under the kitchen table in suddenly a cave to hideout in, and your whole household can be transformed into a jungle using their stuffed animals. A child's imagination is an important learning tool in their growth. Through imaginative play they learn in-directly about real-life situations, develop their vocabulary, and develop the ability to create, organize and perceive.
When a small child holds a doll or stuffed animal in their arms and pretends it is a baby they are learning about a real life situation. They are learning how to nurture and take responsibility for others. The same goes for a pretend kitchen or a little boy using his Bob the Builder toy tools. These children are learning how their parents interact in particular situations and trying to mirror it in their play. In addition, when an adult encourages their child to pretend and somewhat leads them on their imaginative journey it is no longer just play, but a great opportunity to develop vocabulary, counting, and anything else that can be incorporated.
For example, you and your child decide to turn your house into a jungle safari. Place stuffed animals and pictures of animals all around the house to be discovered. Dress-up and use a flashlight to seek out different animals. Teach the child new animal names, count how many animals you find, look up fun facts about the animals on the computer or in a book. Once you find all the animals and you're at the end of your pretend safari, read animal books together in a made-up tent. Really, there is no limit to what you and your child can do to develop their minds through imaginative play.
Through developing their imaginations, children also become capable of creating a concept, organizing their thoughts about it, and then perceiving it into their play. We, as adults use this tool in our everyday, especially at work. We create concepts, organize our thoughts, and make it happen. Who knew that simple child's play when we were young could help us develop such useful knowledge. School and other methods help us fine tune it along the way, but it is when we are very young that our minds are so palpable and capable of learning lifelong concepts.
It has been said that "A child's work is play." If this is true, then their imagination is one of the most important tools in early development. Therefore, it becomes imperative to sharpen that tool and encourage children to create worlds of their own and to go on such things as pretend jungle safaris or on missions to find hidden treasure. And, as stated before, when an adult also takes part in their pretend world and leads them and shows them new things and concepts, the possibilities for learning are endless.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kari Hoopes is the owner of Sweetly You where you can find unique bubble bath, and build custom bath and body gifts.