How to Encourage Your Child’s Imagination and Self-Expression

Childhood is a time for imaginations to run wild. But when children’s schedules are filled to the brim with too many structured classes and extra-curricular activities, it can limit self-expression.

After carving out space and time for letting your child’s creative mind flourish, consider these ideas and tips:

• Play Dress-Up: Playing dress-up gives children opportunities to empathize, solve problems, increase their vocabulary and work together. Handbags, hats, old eyeglass frames — the next time you clean out your wardrobe, give those items a second life in the costume closet, where they will help your children build worlds and tell stories.

• Provide Interactive Toys: Many of today’s interactive toys are packed with big potential for creative self-expression. For example, Myla the Magical Unicorn from VTech, a colorful unicorn toy that glitters with lights as she talks and sings, introduces early concepts of color combination in a fun way. Kids can practice matching and mixing colors using a magic brush to decorate Myla, and stylize her by brushing her tail and braiding her mane. Using the microphone, kids can sing a rocking duet, and when it’s time to go solo, they can pull the microphone away, so Myla stops singing but keeps playing music.

• Talk It Out: Whether you’re running errands or eating dinner, you can promote creative thinking just by spending this time talking. Start a conversation with your child about books and art. Ask questions about your child’s day. Whatever the topic may be, just be sure to avoid conversational dead-ends, such as yes-or-no questions. Instead, foster a dialogue that lends itself to new questions, discovery, and vivid descriptions of sights, sounds and feelings.

When parents provide children with time, space and freedom to play, create and build on their own, their imaginations can soar. (StatePoint)