Family

7 ways to encourage your child's imagination

Author: Canadian Living

Family

7 ways to encourage your child's imagination

Does your child spend hours wasting away the day watching TV, playing video games and sitting in front of the computer? If so, consider this: Too much screen time limits kids' cognitive and emotional development.

Focusing your attention on a screen is a passive form of learning and entertainment, says Kathy Eugster, a registered clinical counsellor, registered play therapist, and child and family counsellor in Vancouver.

Imaginative play is a more active and natural way for children to learn and have fun, she says. Here are seven playful activities you can do with your little one to encourage her to use her imagination.

Ways to play
• Take objects from around the house and pretend they're something else (for example, use a banana as a telephone or a paper-towel roll as a telescope).

• Paint or draw something unexpected to create an original work of art. Make sure to show off the masterpiece to visitors. (The fridge can stand in for the Louvre.)

• Make sock puppets together using old socks and buttons, and use them to put on a show.

• Act out a play. "Half the fun is setting things up or getting dressed up," says Eugster. "The other half is playing out or acting out the various roles and creating the story itself. Stories can be continued from one play session to the next."

• Mix up some modelling compound together, then create sculptures.

• Camp out in the living room. Set up a tent and sleeping bags, and make a pretend bonfire using sticks collected from outside.

Have a tea party or picnic in your backyard. "Invite stuffed animals and dolls," suggests Eugster. "Set up the place settings using plates, utensils, a tablecloth, napkins and flowers. Use play food and empty food containers."

This story was originally titled "Let Your Child's Imagination Run Wild" in the April 2012 issue.

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7 ways to encourage your child's imagination

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