When kids are young it is important for us to encourage kids to use their imaginations.
If we instill habits in our kids to get out and explore when they are young, we may encourage them to choose things like playing outside over watching TV as they get older!
You may be wondering the best ways to encourage kids to use their imaginations and there are many many ways, but these are my favorite!
Go for a walk, pick flowers, play in the sand. The possibilities are endless. Kids don’t need toys when they are outside. The longer they are not entertained the more their imagination will come out.
They will draw pictures in the dirt with sticks, they will hunt for bugs, and my daughter has even played in our backyard while imagining it was a grocery store.
Send your kids outdoors and step back to let them explore. You might be surprised at what they come up with.
Leave the mess
Imaginative play is not always clean. Actually, it is really messy most of the time.
One of my favorite things to do is to go outdoors and give my daughter washable paints and a sketchpad. She paints and paints and paints whatever comes to mind and I don’t have to worry about the mess because it can be easily cleaned up with a water hose!
When you can’t get outside I like to leave the mess while containing the mess at the same time. I’ll let her bring out the Legos or something similar only after she has cleaned everything else up. Then she can go crazy with the Legos, but before she moves on to the next toy she has to clean the Legos up.
This way I am containing the mess without limiting her creativity.
Hide the electronics
Let them be bored. Their imagination will shine the brightest when they are bored!
Ever heard the saying that kids can do more with a cardboard box than a room full of toys? It’s true!
If they don’t have the option to bury their noses in electronics or TV, they will eventually use their imaginations and find something to do.
Well, okay maybe we don’t throw out ALL the rules, but sometimes it’s okay to blur the lines a little.
Right this second, I am sitting in the backyard writing this post and watching my daughter jump in “muddy puddles”. Typically she is not allowed to do this, especially if we are leaving to go somewhere that day.
But today, we are at home for the next few hours and I know she needs a bath anyway so why not!? Today I am choosing to let go of some of the rules and let her imagination lead.
Get them talking
While you are on a walk together or eating a snack, ask them questions about anything! I love asking my toddler basic questions like what is your favorite color or where is your favorite place to go.
At that age, it is really easy to spark their imaginations with simple questions and typically once they get started talking they don’t stop!
It is easy just to blow off the toddler/preschool talk because (being honest here) they talk A LOT during this stage. But take some time out of your day (maybe when you are asking them questions) to truly engage and listen to what they have to say.
I always find myself laughing so hard at the things my little girl comes up with and where her imagination takes the conversation.
Let go of the reins
Let them lead. One of my favorite ways to bond with my toddler is to go on walks together. I let her choose where we go and which streets we turn down while listening to her ramble on about what she sees or how she’s feeling.
I let her take the lead completely (as long as it is safe) and even let her decide when it is time to turn back to go home. Me stepping back and allowing her to lead is a great way to stimulate her imagination!