When talking about child development, the most discussed aspects are usually the emotional as well as physical development of your growing child.

However, equally important is the stimulation of children’s imagination and creativity throughout their stages of development. In fact, imagination directly influences a child's emotional and physical development.

Early childhood development - Preschool in Cape Town

Creative play and imaginative play

Creative play is the playful manipulation of emotions and ideas as well as a child’s ability to act out stories which involve different perspectives.

These creative expressions act as a reflection of your child’s personality, emotions as well as his or her cognitive abilities.

Through imaginative play, child development takes place in such a way that it encourages social, emotional, intellectual and even physical growth.

Imagination, creativity and early childhood development

Albert Einstein said that the true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination. Your child’s ability for critical thinking and creative problem solving evolve from imagination.

Critical thinking and creative problem solving encourages your child to think outside the box and stimulates their own ability to overcome obstacles with confidence.

Imagination is fostered through play. Allowing your child to play freely with various toys or other objects gives them the opportunity to engage in their own creative and imaginative thoughts.

There are studies that suggest that imaginative play in developing children pave the way for a child’s ability for self-regulation which includes civility, reduced aggression and empathy.

Furthermore, when your child is given the freedom to experiment with different thoughts, ideas and perspectives, they also have the chance to find their own resolutions to any obstacles they might be faced with.

It’s easy to see how the development of these skills will directly influence your child’s ability to interact socially as well as thrive intellectually.

Benefits of imagination in child development

  • Language development – without the risk of being corrected when making a mistake, children are able to experiment with their own vocabulary and use of language.
  • Physical development – motor skills, hand-eye coordination, muscle development as well as general dexterity are all nurtured through creative and imaginative play.
  • Social development – imaginative interaction with other children such as role play, encourages your child to learn how to deal with different personalities and situations in a healthy manner.
  • Emotional development – when imagining scenarios your child also imagines different emotions or feelings, both positive and negative, from different perspectives. This helps them discover ways to address and understand a wide variety of emotions which fosters empathy and understanding.
  • Thinking skills – critical thinking and creative problem solving becomes easier as your child is faced with having to come up with solutions to obstacles they are faced with

5 ways to nurture your child’s imagination

  • Limit screen time – an overload of fast-moving images tends to numb the imagination. Limit screen time to no more than one hour a day.
  • Play outside – the outdoors provides endless opportunities for the imagination to run wild. Being outside encourages your child to discover, design and wonder.
  • Formulate your own stories – create a scenario for your child to fit into and allow them to take on any role they choose for the story. Refrain from limiting them to who or what they are allowed to be. Whatever role they choose, encourage them to elaborate on their idea.
  • Ask thought-provoking questions – make sure these questions are open ended. Ask what the difference is between a dog or a cat. Ask them to describe the physical characteristics of an octopus or a porcupine.
  • Make reading time memorable – routine bed-time stories not only help your child sleep well, but they also stimulate the imagination by encouraging your child to picture what the scenes or images of the story are telling them.
  • Make art – provide loads of art supplies and props and allow your child to create. Every now and then, give your child a specific scene, object or animal to draw or paint and let them come up with their own version.

Kay-Dee Educare Centre Mowbray

Imagination is a crucial part of child development and has a significant impact on their overall learning abilities and other skills. Contact us to find out about how we use different activities to stimulate your child’s imagination and creativity.