10 ways to spark your child’s imagination

A child’s world is full of imagination. All you need to do is to just fuel and nurture it.

By Dr Priscilla J S Selvaraj

10 ways to spark your child’s imagination

“The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination,” said the genius Albert Einstein. True! Great inventions and discoveries were born out of imagination and not mere knowledge. So, in order to raise intelligent children who can make meaningful contributions to society, you need to spark off their imagination. However, you need to bear in mind two important action points before you set out to nurture your child’s imagination -

• Minimise screen time: The more time your child spends before screens, the less will be her imagination. She will tend be more robotic and less humane in her thoughts and actions. So, cut down on screen time as a family. You can even have no-screen days.

• Allow boredom: Surprised? Well, boredom may be good for your child. A time free of any tasks will challenge your child’s imagination to come up with interesting activities to engage in. Even just idling away will set him off on a journey to the world of imagination. His creative energy will surge forth and rejuvenate him. So, why don’t you go ahead and ‘schedule’ boredom for your child?

Given below are 10 sure-fire ways to spark off your child’s imagination:

1. Storytelling: Nothing like storytelling to fire up your child’s imagination. Here’s how you can get your child to engage in this activity -

  • While you narrate stories, use puppetry or creative props to help your child picturise and imagine the setting and characters. You can even made good use of voice modulation for extra impact.
  • Also, when you narrate stories, encourage your child to participate actively in the process by throwing up questions at you about the plot, the characters, their actions, the ending, and so on.
  • You can also encourage your child to come up with his own stories. They can be either ones he has read or heard, or his very own yarns.
  • You can have family storytelling sessions where one member begins a story and the others keep adding details to it to build the story.

2. Role-play: Include pretend play activities into your child’s leisure schedule. Stepping into the shoes of another person can add many a spark to her imagination. Here’s what you can do -

  • Invite your child’s friends or cousins to come over for pretend play sessions. Provide them with different scenarios and ask them to take on roles and act out the situations. For example - Neil Armstrong’s landing on the moon, a heated debate at the Assembly session, or an organic farm sale.
  • When you read the news every day, engage your child in healthy discussions about day-to-day events. Ask him to provide solutions to problems.

3. Creative writing: Probably the best way to set off your child on the path of imagination is to make her engage in creative writing activities.

  • She can write simple ‘Thank you’ notes to people who have rendered some service. Let her take care to bring in novelty into her note.
  • Make her pen a few lines on personalised greeting cards for birthdays and other special days.
  • Jingles, limericks, rhymes, haiku and other forms of poetry - make your child write one every week on a specific theme. You can also make her read them aloud during family parties.
  • Prose pieces such as short compositions, mini-bios, persuasive essays and so on can give a free rein to your child’s imagination.
  • Good old letters can serve the purpose as well. Get her back to the ‘snail mail’ days by getting her to post letters to friends or relatives who live in far off places. She can spring a surprise on them by replacing calls, tweets and chats with letters!
  • Diaries, apart from helping her in the cathartic process, will also aid her imagination. For example, let us say she sees an elderly lady come to the park all by herself every evening. She can note down her observation in her diary along with her thoughts on why she thinks the lady comes alone or any other detail about her.

4. Arts and crafts: Any handwork will give vent to your child’s imagination.

  • Encourage him to make his own toys. Rather than playing with motorised or battery-operated ones, let him create his own toys. Provide him with materials such as old plastic containers, pieces of cloth, ribbons, etc. Also, this can serve as a good recycling exercise.
  • Designing greeting cards, making pen holders, and fridge magnets are other activities he can engage in.
  • Older children can engage in pottery, sculpting or even screen printing.
  • Making collages and picture albums can also be other fun and imaginative activities.
  • Another fuel for imagination can be DIYs. Get your child the necessary kits and get him to put them together.

5. Drawing and Painting: From doodles to splotches, your child can go imaginative all the way!

  • Encourage your toddler to scribble and play with colours. As she grows up, introduce her to finer art forms such as pencil sketches, painting portraits, using poster or oil colours, painting murals and even frescoes.
  • Let your child come up with her own themes for painting. Also, do not expect perfection; as long as your child is imaginative it should be fine.
  • Make sure you provide your child with the necessary art material and the space to create her art.

6. Reading: This hobby can take your child places; from the comforts of a cosy couch and a book on his lap, your child can travel to far-off lands both real and imaginary. Reading helps form mental pictures of the people and places one reads about. What better way to feed your child’s imagination!

  • Have family reading sessions wherein you can engage in discussions about the story.
  • Form neighbourhood reading clubs or circles; this will again provide for healthy exchange of ideas about plots and characters.

7. Music, Dance and Drama: These three fine arts can help nurture your child’s imagination in more ways than you can imagine.

  • Enrol your child in classes that offer training on the form that interests her. Go classical with Bharatanatyam or Kathakali or go the ballet way!
  • Encourage participation in extra-curricular activities in school.
  • Organise tableaus, skits, shows during family parties. Involve your children actively in organising the same. How about giving a different spin to a familiar play? Say, a friendly ghost in Hamlet? And, a dash of comedy too! Allow your child to come up with her own suggestions.
  • Help your child organise street theatre shows to serve as social and civic awareness drives in the neighbourhood.

8. Innovative games: Why play the same old games over and over again? To drive away the monotony, let your child come up with her own games.

  • Do not provide any playthings or board games. Encourage your child to come up with his own ideas and materials for games. Let him draft his own rules too.
  • During family gatherings or outings, let your child take the lead and organise innovative party games.

9. New spin to routine chores: Why don’t you involve your child in helping you with household chores? Of course, giving the routine chores a new spin?

  • Engage in a sing-along as you dry the clothes on the line.
  • Do a jig as you vacuum.
  • Make dosas in the shapes of the letters of the alphabet or a sweet dosa for dessert.
  • Use natural food colours (such as thick beetroot or carrot juice) to paint idlis.

10. Engaging with nature: Let your child befriend nature and spend time in the open. That’s one of the best ways to trigger off his imagination.

  • Organise a week-end terrace ‘night-out’. As you sleep in the open, let your child observe the starry sky and let his thoughts wander.
  • Also, encourage him to watch passing clouds from your window or balcony and name them based on their shapes. For example, one can be a bear, another a genie, and yet another a clown.
  • Nothing like bird-watching. As your child observes the birds in the park or the backyard, let him imagine what they are chirping or cooing to each other.

“There are no rules of architecture for a castle in the clouds,” – G K Chesterton

Allow your child to give a free rein to her imagination and build magnificent castles in the air!