The promotion of the socio-emotional imagination of children – ie their ability to see and understand alternative perspectives, emotions, options for action and results for themselves and others in the short and long term – is unfortunately missing in many classrooms today with very little imaginative play.
This is a great loss because using your imagination leads directly to useful creative behaviors – behaviors that demonstrate complex thinking, deep learning, and general wellbeing.
Why is it important?
Spontaneous, voluntary and actively engaged play gives children the opportunity to discover and develop their creativity by exploring and interacting with their environment. It also gives children a chance to let their imaginations run wild by creating complex stories that are fluid, change in a moment, and relate to a specific place or context. Rogers (2000) suggests that creative connections are made while children play – stimulating opportunities for self-expression, problem-solving, communication, and building social relationships. This is achieved by the fact that playing is naturally fun for the individual and is motivated by himself, which enables a personally interesting and meaningful engagement.
Tips to encourage imaginative play
- Play to play – Have no preconceived outcome in encouraging or engaging in play
- Offer props and toys – Stimuli are incredibly important to the game and designed for that! Check out our wide range of imaginative toys
- Take part – Playing with parents, carers, siblings and other children offers a context full of interaction and diverse learning opportunities.