Sunday, November 29, 2015

Give Kids the Gift of Imagination

When we were kids we made up games, constructed toys out of other things, created fantasy worlds, and sometimes we even had imaginary friends. Today's kids are so scheduled with such things as daycare, school, after school sports and other supervised activities that they have very little, or no time for creative play. When not being directed by adult in how to do something, they are often parked in front of some screen.

There is currently a Duracell Star Wars commercial in which their batteries are powering light sabers. A boy is fighting off storm troopers to save his sister.  Together they continue the fight. Storm troopers bite the dust ...or the kids take their light sabers to an inflatable snowman in the front yard.

During this commercial, of what I would see as normal childhood play, a message appears on the screen informing viewers that certain scenes are nothing more than a Fantasy Sequence.  Well, Duh!  Has it really become necessary to remind people that this is the natural way for children to play?  If so, I suggest everyone step back and leave the kids a few hours a day to just explore their world and rediscover their imaginations.  Without it we will have a whole generation incapable of inventing anything.  In a country where great minds have produced such things at insulin and electron microscopes, snow blowers and snowmobiles, electric ovens, electric wheelchairs and car heaters, Pablum , cardiac pacemakers and of course Canadarm, that would be devastating to our future growth.  Can you imagine how you would get along in the world today without the things others have invented through the years?

Child play produces creative children who learn how to solve problems. Creative children invent their world, and things to play with.  And sometimes, as adults, they invent useful things for the rest of us too. Duracell has just pointed out that perhaps some of today's adult population has forgotten that it's perfectly normal for children to enact fantasy sequences, and feels it necessary to label them as such. Surely we can tell the difference. Or perhaps the labels are meant for the children because they no longer have much experience with fantasy, and need to be told what is real and what isn't. Either way, I find that sad.

If you are wondering what to get your kids for Christmas this year, perhaps you should skip the electronics department. Find something they have to find a way to play with....even if you have to get down on the floor and do it with them. For instance, put together a train track with your boys, or have a tea party with your girls. Maybe you could get them books you could read to them, so their imagination fills in the blanks.  Put away your own electronics, and just play with the kids, even if you have to resort to old fashioned board games. They will love you for the time you spend with them, and someday they will remember the year you gave them their imagination for Christmas.

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