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How to encourage imaginative play

How to encourage imaginative play

The reason many parenting experts worry about the amount of screen time children have is because, despite its many benefits, kids need time away from a screen to use their imagination. Whether it is TV, movies, games etc., when kids learn on a screen, it is a guided form of learning. Imaginative play is open-ended and, depending on the situation, can build every skill set from problem solving to fine motor skills.

Imaginative play ideas

Here are a few ideas we came up with to help you encourage imaginative play:

Give your child “open-ended” toys

Open-ended toys are ones that have no directions or rules; children can use them any way they please. If you like being festive, Play-Doh Day is on September 16th and is a great example of an open-ended toy. Other open-ended toys include:

  • Blocks
  • Art supplies
  • Sand and sand toys
  • Water and water toys
  • Clothes for dress up
  • Boxes of different shapes and sizes

Allow the chaos

A New York Times’ article, Effort to Restore Children’s Play Gains Momentum, by a mother of three reminded us that if we truly want our kids to reap the benefits of imaginative play, parents needs to step back and let it happen. We can’t require that they clean up their mess halfway through or tell them their ideas are illogical. Imaginative play requires physical and mental room to play.

Be a part of the game

You shouldn’t correct how your children play, but you can and should get in on the game. You may not want to play make-believe with them for hours, but sometimes kids need a little help getting the game going. Here are some imagination games you can start:

  • Doctor’s office
  • Veterinary clinic
  • Medieval times
  • Outer space
  • Store
  • Restaurant
  • Create your own town, farm, fort etc.

Imaginative play is so healthy for kids and doesn’t have to cost a dime. Anything in your home can be used to start a game or used to build something. Start encouraging imaginative play today and you will quickly see your child develop new skills.

Image Copyright: Robert Churchill/123RF 

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