Encouraging Children to Be More Imaginative and Creative

Building Blocks Therapy Centre

Encouraging Children to Be More Imaginative and Creative

dress up

By Jevetta Doyley

Being imaginative and creative is a major concern for many parents.  Particularly those for children with autism or with a preference for cause and effect toys.  Typically children move on from cause-and-effect toys at around 2 years.

After this stage typically developing children are able to engage in more creative play, it may take a little longer for the neurodiverse.  Like all things, we can still encourage and hone in on those creativity and imaginative skills in a number of ways.  Read below for Building Blocks Therapy Centre’s top tips.

Less Screen Time

I know, it’s like magic, press the on button and kids become entranced.  Technology is a fantastic tool for encouraging children to engage in play and learn.  Shifts in technology now mean that our children can engage in pretend play and creative play on tablets and mobile phones, however, it is important to diversify play.  Technology often involves lots of visual and auditory stimulation and can be a good but quite static tool for learning.  Many learners are kinesthetic and we shouldn’t ignore this when we encourage children to engage in play activities.

Dress Up!

Encouraging children to dress up and play a role is a great way to encourage imaginative play.  Children can become whoever they want to be and learn a lot in the process.  For example, your child can turn into a vet and help his/her stuffed animals who need a plaster or take some pretend medicine.  Situations like this teach our children new vocabulary, the roles of people in our communities and problem-solving.  They are a great talking point for you and your child and provide a great opportunity to discuss what the child can do in a range of situations.  Unable to purchase the real thing, why not create your own pretend play situations using real-life materials.  This is a great idea, particularly if you have children with autism, as most children learn from real life experiences and this helps them when it comes to representational play.

Get Involved!

Getting involved in a range of play scenarios is a great way to support the play skills of children.  Whilst playing you can ask lots of questions, provide a narrative of what’s happening during play, model speech and actions and encourage children’s imaginative thinking and problem-solving.

Dinner Parties!

Want to teach your child table manners?  Set up play scenarios with your child so that they can practice their social skills.  Again, these are great opportunities to discuss what-to-do and what-not-to-do in a range of situations, almost like a practise session.  The child can experiment with pretend friends (their own soft-toys) and you can narrate what’s happening and use this as an opportunity to ask lots of questions.  For example, mummy spills her pretend tea and says “Oh no! Mummy spilt her tea.  What should I do?”  Mum can wait for an answer or model the appropriate answer and the consequent actions for the child to see.

Get Outside!

They call it the great outdoors for nothing.  Encouraging play outside is fun and allows for lots of movement and exploration.  If your child is a little bit stuck on what to do, give them tasks, ask them to collect interesting leaves or flowers, or ask them to take pictures of the different animals and minibeasts they spot.  They can name them or creative narratives about what the minibeasts are up to on their leaves or where the duckling was paddling to in the pond.

Get Moving!

Physical creativity is another great way to encourage creativity and imaginative skills.  This is the perfect option for those of us who are kinaesthetic learners.  Art projects, dancing, singing and movement activities allow the child to not only enjoy themselves and keep active but also develop proprioceptive skills and develop their muscle tone and body strength.

We have compiled a list of many activities that can be done at home, using household items and some of the child’s own toy collection, check them out HERE.

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