But if it's so important why does it get so little air time in our halls of learning?
Could it be that imagination is hard to teach and even harder to measure? How does one learn imagination? Must imagination be self taught?
I can tell you that as a teacher, one of the most beautiful benefits I can give my children by homeschooling them is time : time to be bored, time to pass through boredom to the other side, time to use their imagination and be creative, time to know themselves and figure out who they are.
Unfortunately, many children can not get past the boredom stage. Children are often school worked or activity-ed to death. And some children with time to get bored either lack self control and therefore misbehave or they are allowed to drown themselves in entertainment
and so never pass through boredom to creativity.
Don't get me wrong, I advocate activities, sports and some entertainment, but more importantly I advocate teaching children to control their own bodies, minds and words early and teaching them to appreciate the value of stories earlier. As soon as they can sit up they are old enough to look at picture books with others. Board books, cloth books and plastic books for the bath tub are all great tools for those early years.
Parents and care givers, please spend large quantities of time, as much as children will put up with, reading to your young child. I know that is more easily said than done, especially with some children. Not all children have the same tolerance and receptivity to stories and learning self control. Not all parents and care givers have the same ability and desire to share stories and teach self control. But make it a priority to get some time everyday attempting to enjoy books together. The attention from loved ones in a calm activity is always beneficial. Even if the stories are very short or just part of a story, it will pull at the child's imaging processes in their brain and start the “muscles” of imagination developing.
If you are trying to help your child to discover creativity, be warned: sometimes creativity and inspiration is mistaken for misbehavior. Creativity is generally messy: kitchen tables taken apart to discover how they work, curtains painted in response to a creative impulse, holes dug to discover a route to an under ground city or to support the structure of a tower, etc. Be prepared for surprises from the creative child that are not always pleasant, even when they are successful.
Just remember, all of these adventures make for great stories to tell your grandchildren.
Story telling! There's another great way to foster creativity even without books and without sitting down. Tell children stories about you, them, relatives, childhood pets, friends of the family, local history, any history, fictional stories from around the world and especially stories you've created.
And let them, even encourage them to ask questions. Interaction is a huge tool in learning.
Did you have someone who told you stories? What was one of your favorites?