I remember the exact day. I was 8 and I came home with an assignment to build a trap to catch a leprechaun. My mom helped me brainstorm and we set out to make the best trap. She told me there were no crazy ideas, and encouraged me to make it what I imagined. I went to bed that night with anticipation, that in the morning there would be tiny little green leprechaun waiting to be my friend, I also went to bed with something even greater, an imagination.
Although I didn’t catch a little greenie, I did see evidence that he had been to my house, complete with green glitter, some candy wrappers and evidence of a green tinkle in the potty. And that day my imagination grew. My mind was opened up to possibilities far greater than a leprechaun.
In 3rd grade our entire classroom was transformed before St. Patrick’s Day, complete with traps made by each student. Our hope was to come in after the weekend and each have a little green guy stuck in our traps. My mind recalls the magic we saw as we entered the room on Monday. Rainbows dawned the room and little pot of gold candy by each trap with a note that said, “Better Luck Next Time”. No leprechaun’s were captured, but the power that was created in my mind that day has never left me.
I see imagination everyday with my 3 year old son. He is not bound by what is impossible but his imagination focuses on the possibilities. A clothes hanger becomes a bow, his finger tips spray out webs, the Finding Dory blanket becomes an ocean that he swims on and the 2 foot decorative wooden letter B becomes a track for his trains. His imagination is amazing.
Imagination needs to be encouraged. Research studies have shown that using imaginative play is a vital component in the development of a child (Psychology Today 2012). So we need to encourage it in our children. Translated that means we need to use our imagination and teach them to use theirs.
So Moms, we need to put down our phones, and imagine with our children. We need to turn off the TV and the video games and help them imagine the possibilities. This may not be comfortable at first, and it may take some time to learn how to use our own imaginations. We do so much for our children, enroll them in the best preschools, teach them social skills in play groups, take them to church to learn morals and religious lessons, yet one of the most simple things we can teach out children is at the tip of our brains and we often forget about it. Helping your child unleash their imagination is a gift that you can give your child.
Whether is be St. Patrick’s Day, and a leprechaun, a loose tooth and the Tooth Fairy or a Fairy Door in your little girls bedroom, tap into their imagination – and yours.