I love being reminded of the fact that we don’t NEED all the extra bells and whistles in our lives. Coming off a couple of weeks in ‘survival mode’ during the school holidays, this is such a great article by Tara Mitchell of The Gentle Sleep Specialist to remind us to keep a close eye on the amount of electronics our kids use. Here’s why…..
Being a Paediatric Nurse, mother and qualified Infant and Toddler Sleep Consultant has allowed me the opportunity to work with young children for 15 years now. Working with little ones means that I am never bored. I am a student to their abilities and am constantly observing their habits, behaviours and beliefs. Something I have become passionate about protecting is our children’s imagination. Why? Because I don’t see or hear about it as often as I used to and it is crucial that we nurture and protect it.
It stimulates innovation and creativity – Thinking outside of the box! Imagination allows our little ones to see beyond reality and dream big. It plays a large role in their thoughts, their ability to problem-solve and the picture they create of their future. Imagination influences everything we do and has the ability to improve future outcomes.
It improves cognitive development – Imagination is integral to your little ones’ cognitive development and ability. Problem solving, critical thinking and flexible learning can all be strengthened by the use of imagination. “Imagination is essential in the learning process and can advance cognitive development” – Sir Ken Robinson.
It can be an escape – Imagination allows children to get lost in the stories they create. They are able to withdraw from overwhelm during time spent imagining, subsequently becoming immersed in peace, magic, wonder & hope.
How we can nurture and encourage our children’s imagination?
Books – Reading allows both parents and their little ones to get lost in the story. It not only activates our imagination, but also enhances our brain function. The power of books and the interaction that occurs whilst reading to our children is not to be underestimated.
Story Telling – Telling stories and asking our little ones to tell us stories encourages them to use their imagination. It evokes vital communication and creativity. It allows them to think big and to show us their interests. We have a lot to learn from our little ones, by the stories they tell.
Time outside – Encourage and make time for play outside. Children have the ability to turn a rock and some sticks into a game or characters. Many little ones are not getting anywhere near the amount of physical activity as they should be. Why not exercise their little bodies and minds at the same time?
Boredom – Is your child’s day filled with activities, rooms filled with toys and any spare time spent in front of a screen? Allowing your children free playtime, time independent of our input (autonomous play) and giving them the opportunity to be bored is invaluable. Slow down, plan less. When children are bored they are more likely to get creative, use their imagination and explore.
Turn off the screens – There are a number of issues that increased screen time presents to our children’s developing brains. A child staring at a screen for long periods of time is not given the opportunity to physically exercise, develop crucial social interactions, explore their creativity, nor use their imagination. Disturbingly, too much screen time is seemingly having a detrimental effect on children’s behaviour and there have been direct links made between increased screen time and poor sleep habits.
I think Albert Einstein put it best when he said – “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”
Dream Big Little Ones,