Let’s face it, technology is part of our lives these days, even for the youngest of kids. As a former technology teacher, I’m completely fine with that but as a former early childhood educator I’m also on a quest for balance in our lives. It’s all about balance really. Getting kids to play is really pretty easy and if you’re looking at encouraging imaginative play in kids, try some of these ideas!
Encouraging Imaginative Play in Kids
Obviously, one of the best ways for encouraging imaginative play is to put away the devices! So have a set amount of time or a time of day when everyone can use their technology (yes, even your little ones if you let them) and then use some of these tips for other times!
One of the best things I did to help with encouraging imaginative play with Weston and Carrigan was clean up our play areas! We had so many toys that I think it was slightly overwhelming for them. It definitely overwhelmed me so we didn’t spend as much time in the play room. After Grambo and I spent some time de-cluttering and getting what was left a bit organized, the kids were more than willing to spend more time playing with the toys they had left!
Choose Simple Toys
Encouraging imaginative play is often done with very few toys or really simple toys. I find that the more complicated the toy, the less imagination my kids seem to use. But when we get out the blocks or cars, they create worlds of their own. Weston will play with his blocks and figures for hours. They go on all kinds of crazy adventures! Carrigan is very hands-on these days and loves to get out play dough or color. So keep it simple to encourage their imagination!
Give Them Time
Just like I mentioned scheduling screen time, protect creative play but scheduling time for your kids to play freely. Not even play time has to be a structured active or a play date. Encouraging imaginative play means give them time to do it! So try adding in some schedule free play time and see what happens!
Are you ready to put your listening ears on and listen to everything your kids will have to tell you when they’re playing? Be ready to sit down to listen to their adventures and the stories they have to tell. And if you get pulled into their creative play, be sure to really listen to the worlds they are creating and jump right in with them! When they see you engaged in all they can dream up in their imaginations, they will want to do it more and more!
One of the best things we can do as parents in our quest to get the kids playing more is to send them outside! If the weather is good enough, make them go outside. My kids love to go out but if your kids are reluctant, don’t make it optional. If they don’t want to go, it helps to head outside yourself and get things done if you have any outdoor chores. Bring the kids with you and let them help you if they want to help or just let them sit. Eventually they will let their mind wander and find something to do.
You can also bring out things for them to play with like balls, cars, blocks, shovels and pails, and other simple toys. Sidewalk chalk is a favorite around our house.
Most of all, when it comes to encouraging imaginative play, don’t be afraid. Just let them play. It will be okay!
Photo Credit: ©andreusK / Dollar Photo Club