What if…..Your Child’s Imagination Could Soar!

Nat Reading Turtle 16.9

Reading a story with your child, watching a movie together or listening to music with them all have the potential to take your child’s creative thinking skills to a new level.

Then by encouraging your child to respond thoughtfully to what they have read, heard or seen – you can also nurture the development of their imagination.

Asking your child, “What did you think about a book or movie?” often evokes a response such as, “It was good,” or “I didn’t really like it.”

When your kids are ready – my colleague Matthew Worwood suggests that you encourage your kids to take the next step: ask them how they would improve upon “the model” – in this case, what they have read (books), seen (movies) or heard (music).

http://dadsforcreativity.com/parent-participation-and-bag-of-legos/

If they are unsure of how they might improve upon someone else’s creation – try to engage them in a discussion that will prompt some responses.

My daughter recently finished a book that she didn’t like. When I asked what she didn’t like about it she said, “The ending.” This provided a great opportunity to go to the next level of analysis in an imaginative and playful mode.

I asked her, “If you could change the ending – what would you do?”

Sir Ken Robinson points out an important distinction between creativity and imagination in his groundbreaking book, “The Element.” If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. Essentially it is about using creativity to find your true purpose – or element:

http://sirkenrobinson.com/finding-your-element/

According to Robinson, imagination deals with thinking of something that is not there. So after Natalie finished reading the book, h20 the two of us tried to imagine a different and better ending. (Creativity, by the way, then involves doing something meaningful with your imagination.)

A great way to jumpstart the imaginative juices in your kids is to play a game of “What if….”

For example:

-What if at the end of the movie, E.T. – Elliot decides to leave on the spaceship with E.T.!

The possibilities are endless. As my colleague and school librarian Cara McConnell points out:

-What if at the end of The Giving Tree – he plants a new tree.

-What if at the end of Cinderella – the shoe doesn’t fit.

-What if at the end of Green Eggs and Ham – he doesn’t like them.

Be attentive to your child’s responses to books and movies and songs – and take the time to help them go beyond their initial responses.

This activity can provide wonderful opportunities for the two of you to engage in explorations that will broaden their imagination and further develop their creative thinking skills.

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Finding your child’s Element: Ways to identify their Creative characteristics

When do you consider your child to be in their Element? When it comes to cultivating creativity or nurturing a particular talent, finding your child’s Element might be a discovery worth making. Sir Ken Robinson, who become well known after making the statement that ‘school kills creativity’, describes it as a place where the things we love to do and the things we are good at come together. As parents we probably have a good idea of what our child likes to do (even if it changes regularly), and many of the skills that we recognize are probably common, and form part of regular development of most children. However, careful observation might reveal certain characteristics that are particularly dominate in your child, and might be worth greater attention as we start to think about our child’s future Element.

Already I’ve observed subtle differences between Lucas and Liam (4 years and 15 months respectfully), despite the fact that Liam is hitting similar milestones as his brother, his interest in solving problems is a lot more prominent, and he appears to quick to master the use of everyday objects.

Lucas liked to observe people and objects, and as he’s got older he began to mimic or make them as part of a fantasy type game. His imagination is one of the characteristics that is always prominent in his play and personality.
Lucas liked to observe people and objects, and as he’s got older he began to mimic or make them as part of a fantasy type game. His imagination is one of the characteristics that is always prominent in his play and personality.
Liam likes to problem-solve and interact with objects independently. He seems to figure things out more quickly than Lucas, and appears a lot more interested in mastering the real world.
Liam likes to problem-solve and interact with objects independently. He seems to figure things out more quickly than Lucas, and appears a lot more interested in mastering the real world.

Start with simple observations of your child’s play and identify times when they work independently for a significant period of time. Next look deeper into these activities to see if they involve certain creative characteristics that form a pattern in your child’s play or personality. There’s certainly not a need to overthink this task, and it’s too early to think about talent, but the things you might identify could help decide on that choice of summer camp, weekend activity, or extra curricular class.

Remember as our children grow we must try and expose them to a variety of experiences in order to expand their interests and find new things they like to do, and perhaps might eventually be good at.

‘’Discoverying the Element is all about allowing yourself access to all of the ways in which you experience the world, and discovering where your own true strengths lie.”

As we build upon our understanding for our child’s interest, we might hope to cultivate skills that will help them to master a particular domain, but it should NEVER be forced, and should be conducted at the child’s pace. A love of music doesn’t necessarily mean rushing to musical lessons three times a week if this isn’t want they want. Instead, it’s about getting to know your child’s creative potential, and then ‘exploring’ that level of interest before investigating ways to nurture and develop it further.

Like all children, Lucas likes to draw, but careful observation shows that his drawings are merely an outlet to his story making, which incorporates real-life experiences, with a fantastical twist. The characters receive less attention, and it’s the world and it’s physical components that manifest on his page and form the backbone to his imaginative play.
Like all children, Lucas likes to draw, but careful observation shows that his drawings are merely an outlet to his story making, which incorporates real-life experiences, with a fantastical twist. The characters receive less attention, and it’s the world and it’s physical components that manifest on his page and form the backbone to his imaginative play.

Our children are still young, with a variety of creative paths to pursue, but the personality and creative characteristics that might shape their creative journeys are starting to develop. Always be on the look out for what your child likes to do, and consider ways to nurture their practical skills in the media they use for their creative work. After all, had Steve Jobs and Bill Gates not had the opportunity to pursue their Elements and master their particular domain, our world might be a very different place.

Personally, I hope that Lucas will become a moviemaker at Disney and take Mommy and Daddy to the Oscars, and Liam will become a soccer player and give us VIP tickets to the directors box at Crystal Palace – who said Dads live their lives through their boys???


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