Friday, October 30, 2015

Using Imagination to Develop Problem-Solving Skills

When our boys turned seven and four, a dear friend gave them each one of the best gifts they’ve ever received. They were capes, homemade capes made from a silky king-sized bed sheet she had picked up at a yard sale.
Capes are perfect props to help children learn problem-solving skills by using their imagination.
Perfect props to help them use their imagination.

The capes were copper-colored and trimmed with colorful binding, making them rather exotic-looking – and perfect to use to play dress-up. Over the years, the capes were used to turn my boys into Batman and Robin, two of the three wise men, and many more characters, most ones that they invented, characters too numerous to count.

My little Batman and Robin are all grown up now. The little characters they were have turned into wise young men and I truly believe that the opportunities they had to use their imaginations contributed to the wisdom that they exhibit today. Creative make-believe play became an important vehicle for them to learn about life and, indeed, to develop something very important, namely their problem-solving skills.

It is my firm belief that nurturing children's imaginations by encouraging creative play is one of the most important gifts a parent can give a child as he or she grows up. Not only is creative play fun, having an active imagination - and being given the freedom to use it - truly does help develop problem-solving skills that will serve a child well for a lifetime.

Imagination and Problem Solving: Who am I to argue with Einstein?

Using their imagination: My little boys taped straws to hard hats to make football helmets.
"Imagination is more important than knowledge."
- Albert Einstein
I've looked for books to support the idea that imagination is important for developing problem-solving skills, but everything I've found either has been too academic or contained very silly-sounding "exercises" for parents to use with their kids in order to make them think.

I decided to leave out the academic books and, instead, leave you with the above quote from Albert Einstein, who certainly has a reputation for having solved a rather remarkable scientific problem. I figure if Einstein believed that imagination is more important than knowledge, who am I to argue with that? Besides, I'm a parent who watched two boys tape straws to hard hats to turn them into football helmets; I've seen the effect of imagination on problem-solving!

So, instead of reading about formal exercises to use to make your children think, I suggest getting down on the floor with them and playing cars or dolls or building with Legos and Lincoln Logs. Engage your children in creative play. Provide them with the tools they need to feed their inner curiosities. Then turn them loose and watch them solve problems that you didn't even know existed. You might be surprised when you witness how much they discover when given the freedom to simply imagine.

I'll be writing more on the importance of nurturing imagination. Please bookmark this site and visit again soon.

In the meantime, if you love the idea of a cape for a child in your life, follow the link to order a personalized superhero cape for your kiddo.

Click here to see more inspiring quotes about imagination.


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