Imagination - why is it important and how to support its development?

development. Read on to find out about five important things we parents can do to support the development of a child's imagination.

Imagination - why is it important and how to support its development?
Imagination - why is it important and how to support its development?

As parents, we increasingly focus on important aspects of a child's development - those related to his emotions, cognitive and social competences. However, when we hear about the development of children's imaginations, it seems to us that this is an area that does not play a significant role in learning and the lives of our children. Meanwhile, numerous observations and studies show that it is one of the most important elements of sustainable development. Read on to find out about five important things we parents can do to support the development of a child's imagination.

Imagination is not only made up stories and inconspicuous fantasies on a specific topic. Imagination makes the child open to himself and others, to creating new things, creative action, diversity and critical thinking, i.e. the ability to perceive various possible solutions and interpret phenomena. In today's world, schematic thinking of giving one right answer and seeing the world from the perspective of dry facts and numbers is meaningless and worthless. The reality that our children face on a daily basis requires them to be able to analyze, infer and verify data, develop their own solutions and look for new paths. Therefore, the task of adults is to support the child's imagination and his natural desire to create.

What does science say about it?

A young child's brain is almost four times lighter than an adult's, but has almost the same number of neurons, or about 100 billion. Interestingly, young human brain cells are twice as active as adult brain cells. This means that children are born with the ability to learn quickly and create new things at an extremely high level.

Research results on the so-called divergent thinking suggest that as many as 98% of preschool children have the natural ability to think creatively at a genius level, but only 2% achieve this result after graduation. For children to develop their intelligence optimally, it is important to strengthen their innate creative abilities. They significantly influence cognitive, emotional and social development.

Neurobiologists, educators and psychologists encourage to use this knowledge in practice and in everyday contact with children.

How to support the development of children's imagination?

Since children are born with a natural curiosity about the world, the ability to discover and learn, it is enough to support them in this learning and follow what they need at a given stage of development.

Here are five important things we can do for kids:

  1. Allow for free play

Free play is one that is not imposed by adults. It can be carried out with their protection, but always according to the rules established by the children.

  Free play - contrary to the belief that play does not contribute to the development of children - teaches them everything they need to develop properly and creatively. It is an important element of speech development, literacy, numeracy, spatial organization, motor coordination, critical thinking skills, awareness of oneself and others, building relationships with people, courage, independence and responsibility.

During free play, the child's brain activates, among others the hippocampus, mirror neurons, the reward system and semi chemicals such as dopamine and endogenous opioids, which are responsible for good mood, effective learning, permanent memorization of new information, analysis, synthesis and reconstruction. When dopamine is dominant in a child's brain, it learns more easily and effectively.

It is worth remembering that play also has therapeutic value. It supports the emotional, psychological and social development of the child. During free play, children have the opportunity to assume different roles, work through difficult emotions and states - such as fear or anger, a sense of rejection or shame. They learn to understand themselves, experience their own feelings and understand others. They practice patience, empathy and persistence in overcoming new challenges.

  1. Accept making mistakes

One representative study on the brain shows that true learning occurs when a child has the opportunity to make mistakes without fear of judgment and criticism from adults.

A team of psychologists and neurologists from Norway discovered that after a person makes a mistake, the so-called reward system, motivating to perform the same activity later, but correctly. The recording of the brain's work while repeating an incorrectly performed action shows that the brain begins to focus on looking for alternatives, analyzing and finding new solutions precisely in order to finally correctly perform a given task.

It can be argued that the brain views making mistakes as something positive. If we, as adults, strengthen this action, children will open up to learning and discovering new things. But when we continue to criticize them for doing something wrong again, instead of using their creative potential, we will flood them with fear of acting and taking on new challenges.

  1. Be open to questions from your child

Even if the questions we hear seem infantile or strange to us, it is worth being respectful (not ridiculing or deprecating). One should accept them and perceive their level of uniqueness. In order not to discourage children from constant searching and fantasizing, it is worth appreciating their activities and actions. It is worth taking time for a quiet conversation, even if it should last only a few minutes, and giving your child some unworthy attention.

Instead of: "now I can't", "wait, maybe later", "I have no time for such nonsense now", "what kind of a question is that?" is very interesting for me "," it's good that you ask about it "," wait, I'll finish cooking and I'll be happy to talk to you about it "," maybe we'll look for answers together? œetc. Careful accompaniment to the child and openness to his creativity support his development, allow to build mutual trust and strengthen our relationship.