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5 ways to encourage your child’s imagination

Tracey Walker
From storytelling to artwork, music and dress-up, here are great ways to embrace your child’s creativity.
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Every child’s imagination expresses itself differently. Just because your child has no interest in dressing up, or avoids paints and crayons, doesn’t mean they don’t like creative play – just that they haven’t found the right fit yet. We give you five great ideas for boosting imagination.

Shared storytelling
The telling of stories has fired up many young imaginations over the centuries. Get your child involved in the telling of the story by either taking turns to tell bits of the story, or asking what should happen next, or what the main character looks like. With enough practise, your child will start telling their own narratives (even if they sound similar to their favourite fairytales!) Studies have shown that pre-schoolers cannot clearly differentiate the concepts of reality and fantasy. It’s important to play along no matter how unbelievable the adventures get.  

Creative artwork
Art is a common outlet for creativity and imagination. Let your child use all sorts of different materials – buttons, string, leaves and clay are all fun to play with. It might not be easy allowing your child to use all the art supplies on one page or use a whole page for one tiny picture, but try to let them create any way they want to.

Music appreciation
Dancing is a natural form of expression; you just need to add the music. Playing a variety of different types of music can encourage your child to dance, sing or play an imaginary instrument. Even just singing together is great for the imagination. As your child gets older, they might be ready for more structured music lessons, but pre-schoolers are generally happy just to have the chance to make some noise.  

Dress-up days
Make-believe opens your child up to a variety of imaginative play. From play-acting as a knight or a mermaid to wearing Mom or Dad’s shoes and going to work, dress-up days encourage your child to invent stories that require a plot, characters and scenarios. You can help further their imagination by asking questions about the landscape, or introducing another character that may alter the plot slightly. 
Embracing originality
Most adults have come to accept certain societal norms, like not wearing pyjamas to a restaurant. But young children are completely unaware of many of these do’s and don’ts. If your child wants to wear their shorts over jeans or dress up as a superhero three days in a row, it’s a good idea to let them be as creative and original as they like. Studies have shown that not stifling your child’s individuality could be the key to developing a healthy self-esteem.  

There are all kinds of fun ways for your child to be creative and develop their imagination. Do you have any great imaginative games you like to play together?
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