Child-directed, imaginative play

Posted on by Elisabeth Weston

The winter edition of CONNECTions for a Great Start (the publication of Great Start, Michigan’s statewide initiative to foster success for young children) is all about creativity and imagination, which is essential to good development–intellectually, socially, and emotionally. EC3’s Patti Casey recommends a particularly noteworthy article about how to promote and encourage more open-ended, child-directed, creative and imaginative play–even if you don’t consider yourself to be creatively inclined! Here are the seven easy steps:

  1. Provide open space to play so children can move things around.
  2. Allow children to move things around (yes, it really is okay for the trucks to go in the block area).
  3. Find ways to say “yes” to children’s ideas so they can explore safely.
  4. Add new things to the area from time to time and allow children to use them as they please–pool floaties might be interesting in the family room on a winter afternoon!
  5. Give them time without interruptions; don’t schedule every minute.
  6. Go with the flow: let children decide what to play, and how, and whether you should be involved (assuming safety is already assured).
  7. Notice their play interests and provide some items to extend it–such as bands of ribbon to make a runway for their model planes.

It takes less effort and money to boost a child’s imagination than you might think–and playing WITH them may even boost your own creativity!

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