At the time of their birth, a child becomes attracted and interested in the blurry colors and images that they first see and, later on, progresses to facial expressions and body language as they grow older. Whatever they visually perceive is what they would translate into as the meaning of the words and sentences that they would, later on, read and write. As they start to go into their schooling years, educators would often encourage their students to apply the words that they have learned through actions or in their daily activities to incorporate the meaning of the word. And one of the activities would be imaginative play.
Imaginative play, also known as make-believe, fantasy play, or pretend play, is a creative activity that allows a child to utilize their imagination to create imaginary scenarios as a way to interpret what they have witnessed or seen, experienced, or would, later on, like to experience.
Nelibeth Plaza, in her book, Is It Santa? depicts a great example of how far kids can go when they use their imagination to solve a “mystery.” Santa’s unbelievable scene on Nelibeth’s book at first portrays Santa Claus as the culprit behind the missing cookies and the messy trail that was left behind. The kids, Mya, Charlie, and Jacob, went into a hunt to solve the case of who took the cookies when they were convinced that it was not Santa who was to blame, which eventually prompted the kids to use their creativity, imagination, and problem-solving skills that led to solving the case at the end.
The Power of Imagination
Imagination stimulates a child’s creativity, helping develop their cognitive, social, emotional, and language skills. By engaging in pretend play scenarios, the child can practice how to interact, express themselves, and create relationships before joining the real world by themselves.
One of the benefits of encouraging a child to imagine is that it helps with their emotional development. Through make-believe scenarios, the child can practice what it is to be kind, compassionate, gentle, and helpful to others. They do role-playing, such as pretending to be doctors, treating the sick and the injured, and helping to save lives. They can pretend to be actors or actresses, entertaining other people, thereby learning how to make others happy. Through their make-believe scenarios, they learn the importance of feeling and processing emotions and leveraging on the optimistic feelings.
Imagination also encourages a child’s creativity. Creating a fantasy stimulates a child’s imagination, making them think out-of-the-box and enhancing their problem-solving skills. Creativity through imagination can be reflected in their work, such as their artwork or talents. In fact, their creative outputs become an outlet for their stress or become their stress reliever. This, in turn, helps the child grow to become a healthier, happier, and more confident individual.
Language development is another payoff when a child’s imagination is encouraged. As the child’s imagination is stimulated, so is the child prompted to learn languages that can correctly and appropriately express what they want to communicate. Role-playing is a communicating skill. To effectively role-play, the child needs to describe what is happening. Role-playing also encourages conversation, thereby prompting the child to expand their vocabulary.
Cons of Too Much Imagination
Of course, not everything is sunshine and rainbows, so it goes with imagination. Too much of a good thing is not, well, good. Hence, too much imagination is also not right, even for a child. The dangerous thing about having too much or overactive imagination is that sometimes it’s hard for a child to tell where the pretend world ends and where the reality begins. There’s a chance that the child might get too caught up in an imaginary world, that reality and the imagination would seem to crossover a lot.
Another con of getting into too much imagination is that the child tends to forget their real selves. They can get too enwrapped in this world where they’re a different person that they forget about focusing on developing and nourishing who they really are.
Why People Need to Imagine
Control is needed when it comes to encouraging a child to imagine and engage in imaginative role-playing. Imagination can make or break a child’s future. If guided correctly, a child’s use of their imagination could actually lead them to success later on in life. But if misguided, it could end up hurting the child’s future. At the end of the day, imagination always plays a significant role in a person’s life, be it a child or even an adult. Imagination is the reason why people have passions in life. Imagination is the reason why people have goals and ambitions in life. Imagination builds a person’s future. And imagination is often the reason behind a child’s smile and happiness.