Posted: Oct 15, 2012 1:43 AM
You can provide your child with a wealth of information and knowledge, but they also need the imagination to put it to use. Every parent should work to stimulate their child's curiosity, interest and imagination. An active imagination develops creative thinking, encourages an adventurous mindset and enhances problem solving skills.

You can spark your child's imagination in a variety of ways:

Read to him

From the time your child is born, you should read to him on a daily basis. Choose books about unfamiliar places and things. While you are reading, talk about the unusual details, ask your child what he thinks the characters felt and encourage him to make up different endings to the stories or sequels about what will happen next.

Limit TV time

Television can discourage an active imagination because it does all the creative thinking for you. The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly discourages television viewing for kids ages 2 years old or younger, and instead encourages interactive play. For older kids, they recommend no more than 2 hours a day of educational, non-violent programs that are screened or chosen by parents.

Be a creative role model

Don't expect your child to have an amazing, creative imagination if you stifle your own. Be a role model by actively exploring new things and developing your creative side. In the kitchen, try to make new dishes -- without a recipe. Spend some time each week drawing, painting, playing music or whatever stirs your own creativity and imagination.

Provide props for imaginative play

Kids love to dress up, so provide them with plenty of old clothes, shoes, hats, purses and other accessories. You don't have to spend a fortune -- old towels make great capes, dad's T-shirts can be turned into dresses, etc. Puppets are also a wonderful way to get children to create and act out different characters and stories.

Explore nature

Let your kids get outside and explore nature. Take them to the park, on nature walks and to unfamiliar locales on a regular basis. Allowing them the explore nature and experience new activities or places are terrific methods for stimulating their imagination.

Make up stories together

Foster your child's imagination by making up stories together. You can start out by reading the first couple pages of a book and then have your child tell you what happens next. You can also provide your child with a series of pictures or drawings and ask him to tell you about the characters -- what they are doing, thinking and planning.

Provide reflection time

When it comes to fostering the imagination, kids need some calming, reflection time too. Just like adults benefit from meditation, kids can benefit from a calm, peaceful setting as well. Set aside some time each day for reflection. Throw some pillows on the floor, dim the lights and put on some soft music. Encourage your children to use this time to relax and think rather than just fall to sleep.

Provide plenty of arts and crafts supplies

Designate a spot in your home for arts and crafts projects. It doesn't have to be a whole room -- just a nook where your child can get creative. Fill jars, caddies and other containers with basic arts supplies: brushes, crayons, markers, paints, pencils, play dough, etc. Have plenty of paper on hand (a roll of butcher paper is great), along with scissors, glue, glitter, beads, buttons and anything else you can think of.

Tolerate the mess

Instead of constantly nagging your child to clean up and keep things orderly, learn to tolerate the mess within reason. An active imagination often means a little chaos, noise and mess. Set some limits but allow your child to get a little messy while they create projects and take part in make-believe play.

Stock up on construction toys

Construction toys such as blocks are great for sparking the imagination. LEGO DUPLO blocks are the perfect size for little ones and easy to snap together. They can make everything from houses to bridges and airplanes to towers.

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