Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Wordy Wednesday: Imagination

Welcome to Wordy Wednesday!

Today's subject:


Albert Einstein knew the value of a good imagination. So I have gathered some of my favorite Einstein quotes to sprinkle throughout todays post!


verb (used with object)
1. to form a mental image of (something not actually present to the senses).
2. to think, believe, or fancy: He imagined the house was haunted.
3. to assume; suppose: I imagine they'll be here soon. -

Most everyone would agree that to imagine is synonymous with childhood. And it well should be. This is in fact a vital skill that enables children to develop physically, mentally, socially, and emotionally. Wow! That is huge.

Sometimes as parents we may have a tendency to dismiss our children's imaginary play as mere whimsy, and thus feel that interruptions to do more "important" things are acceptable. I have been guilty of stifling my children's imaginations at times. And while it's true that there are some times that truly merit everyone's serious attention, these moments are fewer and farther between than we tend to think.

As adults, we see the world, and all it's realities, and we steal ourselves daily, just to make it through with our families in tact. We see what needs to be done, who needs to be where, and we inflate the importance of many of these things. In doing so we often spill our well-intentioned seriousness out onto our children, who absorb it and interpret it very differently than we do.

Children are not miniature adults, but they are people. And in order for them to be the best people they can be, they MUST be able to experiment with life and it's many different challenges in a "safety zone". Imaginary play provides this safety. It allows them to be bold, aggressive, assertive, or even angry or sad, without the consequences these big emotions usually bring when displayed in real life interactions.

Grace was a prime example of this when she was two and three. She was both extremely shy with those outside of our immediate family, but also quite strong-willed with us at home, even loudly disrespectful at times. Imaginary play helped her work through both of these extremes.

In person Grace would never speak to her uncle. She would freeze, look down, and hide behind her bangs until he either gave up and went to talk to someone else, or she would finally spring away, usually finding refuge behind my legs. At home though, she held long, emphatic conversations with him on the "phone". Her play cell phone provided her a safe way to experiment with a very scary social situation. Gradually she emerged from her shell, and now laughs at the thought that there was ever a time when she wouldn't talk to him.

Similarly, her angry screaming fits usually resulted in a swift naughty spot and loss of a privilege. But when she was playing with her dolls and sternly putting them on the naughty spot, she was finding a way to role-play, and in her own little toddler way, to analyze her own behavior. She came to see how actions have consequences and that emotions can be controlled. Not that she doesn't ever cross the line anymore, she surely does, but she knows that it's okay to "yell" at your dolls, but not your parents.

Even still, both she and Zak actively use their imaginations to help them make sense of the world and sort out their own emotions. Grace still role-plays with her dolls. Zak tries out different scenarios in his cartoons that he draws. And they imagine together too, playing "orphans" is one of their favorites. I'm not offended. I know that the reason they can play out these scenes is because they feel loved and safe here in their home, and I couldn't ask for much better.

Imagining Architecture - by Kit
The Solar System - An Abstract by Grace

Bubble Dome on Styrofoam - By Zak

Imagination is manifested in every subject, interest and mood of life. From science to history to grammar. Imagination is the key to developing passion and helping our children and ourselves maintain that passion!

This life skill doesn't have an expiration date either. Think of the adults that you know fairly well. Most likely the ones who are happiest, and most enjoyable to be around are pretty imaginative. That doesn't mean they live in La-La Land, and walk around in cardboard spacesuits. It means that they have vision, try new things, or solve problems in unique ways.

Adults who still have active imaginations are often empathetic, since they can really visualize someone else's plight. They are often positive, because they can envision solutions or good outcomes. And often imagination and a good sense of humor go hand in hand.


Sometimes though our imaginations work against us. Like when we can see every possible way things can go wrong, but not the ways they could go right. Or when we excuse our own or someone else's bad behavior because we "imagine" that we are not hurting anyone, or "imagining" that everyone else does it. Worse is when we "imagine" that we are helping our children "grow up" by shattering the innocence of their imaginings in order to weigh them down with adult burdens. All we end up doing is growing negative, bitter adults who lack the ability to see how things could be.

For further reading, see this article about the importance of imaginative play for kiddos. And this one to read about how a lack of imagination impacts us as we age.

Never underestimate the power of imagination. Imagine something with your kids today!



1 comment:

  1. Loved this post. Smartly written and creative. The pictures were great. Cool bubble on plate!