Thursday, February 10, 2011

Creative and imaginary play

When trying to provide all you can for your children and encouraging them to be the best they can be, I think it is important to remember that it is not just the activities your child does that are important, but also free time and free play are an essential part of a child's development and education.

Creativity and imagination are skills that have just as great as importance as things like literacy and numeracy.  They are the foundations of skills such as problem solving, and adaptation  - essential for our day to day lives. 

Children role play games that reflect real life situations.  Our girls often come home after a new experience and start a whole new game based on that experience.  For example, last week when we had a large cyclone here in Far North Queensland, the girls came home from school the day before, and played in their room getting their teddies prepared.  All the teddies knew their evacuation routes, and to hide under the bed when the storm hit.  The girls even played spinning themselves round in the garden - pretending to be cyclones of varying categories (strengths). 

For something like this cyclone, that was even for us adults, quite a scary time, I think that processing all the new information as part of a game helped our girls to normalise it and reinforce all they were learning.  I believe the fact they role played it as a game, made the real experience less daunting. It was also a valuable outlet for the girls to express their emotions and feelings for a real situation.

When you learn something new, it is important to use that new information to help it stick in your memory and reinforce its meaning.  This is exactly what the girls are doing when they turn their experiences into a game.

Another example was just this week when they attended a hip-hop dance class for the first time.  As soon as they came home they began to create their own dance school - which now has members they have recruited from their classmates at school - a poster, and diaries, with new dance routines being worked on!


I read an interesting book recently, by Daniel Pink, called "A Whole New Mind."  The basic concept in it is that we are now moving beyond the information age, (dominated by accountants, lawyers, computer programmers and the like )- to an age where creativity and right-brain thinking are becoming more and more important skills to have.  His reasoning is that human logical skills are becoming more and more  replacable by computers, whereas creativity is the one area that computers (as yet) can not compete or take over.

As a basic concept I believe this has great validity, as does another of his arguments as a reason for this shift - that of abundance.  If you think of a basic example of an item for sale in a shop.  Generally there is a lot of choice of brands and style of a particular product. How do you choose which to buy?  Creative and innovative advertising and marketing play a crucial role in this.  In this sense, it is those with the creative skills who will be successful !

Creativity and imagination are what makes us all individuals.  We all have the same basic skills, but what makes us each different, is the way in which we use them.

Imaginary play is something to be encouraged in children.  It is as important a part of a child's personal growth and development as are schooling and academic subjects.

What kind of imaginary or creative games do your kids play? and how do you think this is transferred to skills we use as adults?  For example : Cooking meals? decorating/ renovating our homes?  Solving problems?  Do you agree that this skill is equally important as a form of academic learning?

Jill

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