21.04.21 03:36 PM By Dani

Lets explore the benefits of imaginative play experiences

“Put simply, imagination is the ability to create visual images in the mind’s eye, which allows us to explore all sorts of images and ideas without being constrained by the limits of the physical world. This is how children begin to develop problem-solving skills, coming up with new possibilities, new ways of seeing and being, which develop important faculties in critical thinking that will help the child throughout life.” 

- Sally Goddard Blythe, Child Psychologist

Daydreaming employs your imagination as you dream about possibilities
Imagination featuring real elements
Imaginitive play experiences start from the most basic of elements

What is Imagination?

Perhaps thought of more readily as part of a child’s game or a skill children need to develop, the ability to imagine things pervades our entire existence. It influences everything we do, think about and create. Imagination leads to elaborate theories, dreams and inventions in any profession from the realms of academia to engineering and the arts. Ultimately, imagination affects everything we do; regardless of our age or profession.  Imagination is the key to innovation.

The Benefits of Imaginative Play

Promotes physical development

Imaginative play includes the whole body and often combines active play like running, jumping, skipping and crawling with a range of fine motor skills.  It encourages children to pursue new experiences while building their resilience.

Builds emotional regulation and resilience

Children engaging in regular imaginative play express more emotional engagement, thoughtfulness and understanding, with less negative emotional expression such as selfishness and anger. 

"Imaginative play helps us to recognise our own emotional responses to things, which is a very healthy process "

Sally Goddard Blythe, Child Psychologist

Tiny mushrooms can be indication that fairies exist here
Looking for fairies
The tiniest of creatures are just waiting to be discovered

Encourages creativity

Storytelling is one of the most creative tools we have as human beings.  In imaginative play, children build stories around characters they become, extending the plot they have created together and problem solving along the way. They use objects around them and turn them into something else entirely.  Blankets and chairs can become a castle, rocks can represent a delicious feast, stepping stones can be a bridge across crocodile infested waters.

Facilitates problem-solving

Cooperation, negotiation and dispute resolution are all regular parts of imaginative play – especially when there’s a lot of children involved!  Acting out scenarios helps children learn problem-solving skills as they solve issues that arise, either real or imagined as part of their pretend play story.

Improves language development

Through imaginative play, children are usually pretending to be someone or something different from who they are.  In doing this they choose different words and phrases to communicate with each other, often imitating phrases from their favourite books, TV shows or adults!  This use of language helps build vocabulary and understanding of the principles that build a story – a skill that also helps with reading. 

How do you provide for imaginative play experiences within your recreational spaces?

Comment below to join the conversation!