Okay, so camp is over, they've seen all the new movies and how many times can you go to the pool or play miniature golf, anyway?
Exploit this time to trigger your child's imagination!
Once you've introduced your child to her imagination, and she's exercised it (like a muscle that is stiff at first but after a while begins to work smoothly), she will find it easier to plug into it at will.
Easier said than done, you say? Well, have you ever seen a toddler who gets a toy in a box, puts aside the toy and fills the box with bottle caps which then morph into little men from mars/soldiers/kids at the mall? That child is exercising the ability to suspend reality and create a reality of his own.
This is imagination.
How can you help your child embrace this gift? (And it is a gift that will last for life.) Once you've introduced your child to her imagination, and she's exercised it (like a muscle that is stiff at first but after a while begins to work smoothly), she will find it easier to plug into it at will.
Some suggestions follow on how to create a Develop-the-Imagination Opportunity while bonding with Mom and/or Dad at the same time:
- Start by identifying what it is that turns your child on and think about ways to relate to those topics that are "out of the box," different from what he's experienced till now.
- Introduce your child to the wonder of things around him and offer some perks in the process. Does she like stars? Let her stay up beyond her bedtime, buy an astronomy book and learn together how to identify the constellations. (Check out Star-Gazing: Things Are Looking Up - And So Are We.)
- Does he like butterflies or insects? Help him look them up at the local library, on the net or in nature magazines. Tape a large piece of white paper up somewhere in his room or elsewhere in the house and buy him some new paints to create her own butterfly mural.
- Is she a teen heavy into music? Accompany her to a rock concert (if she lets you come.) That's bonding you can't beat. Then have a real conversation with her (well, maybe it's enough to just listen to the CD together) about why she likes this particular group. She may be amazed you really care and you may learn something.
- If your child is a toddler, go on a nature walk with a big basket. Collect leave, pine cones and pebbles and go home and create a statue or 3-D piece of art.
- Is sports her thing? Ask her to give a five-minute talk every evening at dinner about a different athlete. Suggest that she download photos and record charts from the Web to illustrate.
- Are you raising a team of young couch potatoes? Come up with a few questions to trigger their thinking while they're watching. Ask them to give you a review of the story in that 23 minute segment, what the relationships are between the characters, how would they have solved the problem? For more ideas on this, go to The Family View on Films. Introduce your child to some relatives or friends who live farther away. Buy some (hard copy!) stationery and suggest that he write a real letter. If the addressees have e-mail, show him how to create his own stationery. (You may learn something about your mail program in the process, too!) For ideas on connecting with relatives, check out The Treasure Chest. Letter writing? Try our RealLetters. Write books! Whether online or off, help your child develop a story line and protagonists. Better yet, write it together! This can be done with any age. Send what's she's written to a publication. No matter how local, her eyes will shine when she sees her name in print! Not accepted? Print your own family magazine!
The list can go on and on. Go ahead -- lie down on the grass or put your feet up on your balcony or patio and make your own list of imaginative triggers to offer your child. It will give your own imagination a well-deserved work-out!
Enjoy each other's company, enjoy your imaginations and help each other "flow"!