Parents that are young themselves, cannot imagine a time when kids could occupy themselves without any electronic devices to operate, or X-box controls in their hands. But let me tell you first hand, there was such a time, and not that long ago.
Let’s begin with the premise that children absorb information at an astonishing speed – while the repetition of that information becomes second nature just as quickly. For example, it hardly takes any time for a kid to comprehend which buttons to push on a device that will start their favorite game, or hear their favorite animal sounds if they are toddlers, and, they don’t even need to ask you twice. However, ask any seven-year old today to tell you a story or draw a flower, and there will be a pause – sometimes a very long one. As far as creativity coming forth from their individual imaginations, it is a struggle.
ONE WAY TO INSTILL IMAGINATION – MOTHER NATURE
When my children were very young, (two boys and two girls) I read to them daily – then I had them read to me. The following day, we would recall together the former day’s story. It generally would have something to do with going outdoors. Crayons, pencils and paper in backpacks, I would urge them to draw out the scene from the story, or an image of a person, place, animal, or thing from the story. Then taking a cue from LaLa Land, the movie of the same name, I would ask them to rewrite the story in the way that was fun for them. They would become the authors in a sense, writing an alternative story.
I have saved many of my children’s stories and artwork. Today, my grown children practice the same techniques to sharpen the imaginations of their own children. Who knew at the time, the impact my methods had on them? Not only did it encourage imagination, but their reading and writing skills were enhanced as well. Several other things happen by interacting with your children: there is a sense of connection with family members – not just sitting in front of a television or device where interaction is limited to the child and the device and no words are spoken. The verbal exchange is important between siblings and parents with unity being created and fun to be had.
FOCUS ON FINISHING – TAKING TIME TO DO IT RIGHT
Creating focus by enhancing attention span is another great way to engage your children to develop their own passions. Allowing your children to do one thing at a time and completing tasks gives them a sense of accomplishment as well as feeling good about engaging with others too.
Playing games with them and focusing on finishing a task without jumping to the next one is critical. Don’t give your child so many things to chose from that they get frustrated and don’t finish. There is a stick-to-it mentality that you want to invest in by having kids finish a game, a drawing, a puzzle, a story, or even a chore around the house.
By the way, this always works: taking your child out for a special treat upon completion of something that they may or may not like to achieve is a nice way to cap off that chore that they were not too keen about. My children were so focused on completing something because there was always praise, hugs, and yes – even a fun treat!