Have you ever heard parents (or maybe even other educators) saying to children, “grow up. Don’t be so silly?”
Or have you been guilty of letting a child spend hours on technology devices, or in front of the TV without the balance of exercise and play?
When was the last time you meaningfully engaged with your child, or children in your care, and really connected through lasting eye-contact and heartfelt discussion?
The statistics (from the Australian Institute of Family Studies) are alarming:
- 25% of Australian adults with 4-5 year olds either never read, or only read a book to their child one – two days a week.
- This jumps to 31% of adults with six-seven year olds.
- 54% of Australian families are concerned about their child spending too much time in front of the television, computers or doing other sedentary things.
That’s over one million Australian households.
As society gets busier and busier, and families start to rely on smart technology to connect, families are actually becoming more and more disconnected.
Teachers have discovered that structured learning may actually be dampening our children’s natural creativity. With students expected to follow strict structures and boundaries, rather than follow more open, unstructured and creative learning methods that are required in the real world.
In solving these problems, one angle is to focus on imagination and lateral thinking with children.
You can easily create a story with you and a child’s imaginations by choosing three random words together. Any words. The crazier, the better. Then create a story together with a beginning, middle and an end, and simply weave the three words in at different stages of the story.
No idea is a bad idea. Go with all the twists and turns that you can think of. Just immerse yourselves in the moment and you’ll be amazed how positively children can respond.
Child psychologists and educators agree – a child’s brain craves action and novelty. Using your imagination to create weird and wonderful unstructured stories, as well as role-play, are great ways to create a more meaningful bond with children.
Imagination-based stories can help children:
- build self-confidence
- develop language skills, and
- become more adaptable to working out fears and worries.
As adults, by letting your imagination take flight you are saying to children that you are on their level. By sharing in an imaginative adventure together, you are saying that it is OK to be silly, rather than put down statements.
So it’s time to be more unstructured. Time to get creative. Time to let your imaginations take flight. Will you?