Quite frankly we live in a world where we are over stimulated. There are so many people clamouring for our attention from the moment you get up that when it comes to children it is often hard to see how you can stimulate their imaginations without brighter colours, bigger posters and louder music than everyone else. In reality children seem to be able to screen out most of the clamour, probably in the same way that we do as adults which means that it is easier to stimulate creativity and imagination that you might think possible.
Colouring in books will keep idle fingers occupied but the don’t really stack up when it comes to creativity, especially when all we do is bang on about colouring in between the lines. Find a simple pile of “nice“ paper. Now, nice paper can simply be paper that feels good, or is brightly coloured to attract your little one’s attention. Some simple pens, pencils, crayons or other things for drawing with are then all that’s needed. Don’t provide a supply of all of these different types of drawing instruments. Keep your powder dry and give a selection of pens today and crayons tomorrow. A simple change of colouring instruments can generate whole new world of creativity for a child. The next point is to find the best question to start things off. Start with a simple story about something that you have both shared recently, a trip in the car, a picnic or perhaps a visit to a friend, anything that they experienced is the perfect starting point for their imagination. Then you follow it with a simple conversation that starts with “Just imagine if….”. Come prepared with a series of questions about the shared experience that introduces something unusual and after a few questions just leave your child to start to draw out the imaginings you have created. Try it, you’ll be amazed.
Make believe is not much fun for most grown ups because we are conditioned to be grownups. We don’t have time for all that silly stuff do we? Well, with a child on board you need to make the time. Put your own embarrassment (because that’s how you feel really don’t you) to one side and start with some simple make believe. It’s much easier than you might think. Remember that you are trying to stimulate imagination so a few simple props is all you need to get things going and it doesn’t have to be at set times. The next time your little one comes to the dinner table with their doll or teddy clutched in hand, just ask if Mr Bear or Cindy would like to join you to eat. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to get them talking freely with creative abandon. Once you start and you see how your prompts get results you will begin to feel confident about this “Just imagine if….” thing.
Keep it Simple
The most important message is to keep things simple. You don’t have to be bigger and brighter than the latest advert on TV to get their attention; you have it practically all the time. Keep your props simple, your questions even more simple and just allow them the time to work with their imaginations. Remember that the best stories are the simple ones that leave most to the imagination. If it doesn’t happen first time don’t give up, just think back about the situation you tried to create. How real was it to start with?