Friday, December 7, 2012

Imagination Station

"We all start out knowing magic. We are born with whirlwinds, forest fires, and comets inside us. We are born able to sing to birds and read the clouds and see our destiny in grains of sand. But then we get the magic educated right out of our souls...We get put on the straight and narrow and told to be responsible. Told to act our age. Told to grow up..." 
When you look at this, what do you see? 
 If you answer the obvious I ask that you maybe
look at it with different eyes. 
What does it look like? 
What things can it resemble? 
Open your mind to the possibilities!
Remembering this wonderful quote about the importance of letting a child be a child was important for me to read again today.  Robert McCammon wrote that in Boy’s Life.  While I have never read the book its from, the passage strikes a chord in me and tugs on my heart strings. 

My child has a very active and sweet imagination.  The other children I am around seem tame compared to hers, and sometimes I try to stifle it when we are out and about.  Bad mommy, I should just let it flourish, as I am reminded in the above passage from Boys Life.  This week we are all about being ponies.  Is there really any harm in this 100%  childhood pursuit?

Years ago it was normal for kids to be imaginative and pretend to be cars, ponies, dogs, kittys, pirates, and parents (to name a few).  Bear has always had a active imagination which may be why television only holds a passing fancy to her.  She has favorite shows, but she never sits and watches for hours like some children do.  If she watches a show that captures her imagination, she is off and acting upon it:  Devising ways of being a part of it rather than a passive observer.  I can't wait for her to learn how to read, the world will be at her fingertips!

It's my belief that the imagination begins to be removed from our children as they are put into a classroom and forced to conform and sit still, forced to listen all the time to an adult.  If they want to add a thought or question they are told to raise their hand or wait, and then the parent is given a note about behavior.  I do think listening is a needed skill, and one we work on, but I don't force my child to listen for hours.  I have my say and then ask what her thoughts are.  I ask for her input, her thoughts and how she sees something are valuable and this is what I hope to teach her.  If grown-ups talk all the time we shove imagination into the corner.  I think we can all agree, most of us have very little left of our imagination.  Most of it disappeared long ago, replaced with the knowledge that unicorns don't fly and rainbows really don't end in a pail of gold.  Hold on a second.... I am not getting down on a brick and mortar school (BMS), every family makes choices which work for them.  I just shudder at the thought that we are taking away a very important component of childhood and growing up by removing the imagination.  My wish is that our current educational system would revamp and readdress what our children need, what we have now obviously isn't working. 

We expect our children to be little people.  No one woke up one day grown-up; no, we got to where we are in steps.  Children are not little grown-ups, they are unique and individuals.  We need to let them be who they are so they can become who they are meant to be.  I honestly think that some of the ills our society is facing is due, in part, to this concept that we need our children to GROW up and force the idea and concepts upon them which they cognitively are not prepared for.  Childhood is a matter of ages and stages, and we would do well to remember this.

Our sons and daughters are paying the price of our over stressed lifestyles as we put them into preschool, pre-k, and kindergarten at ever younger ages.  I know dozens of 3 year olds in preschool 2-3 days a week.  Even more 4 year olds, in fact MOST 4 years olds are in a pre-k setting, those that aren't are Homeschooled.  By the time the youngun's turn 5, they are almost always fully indoctrinated into the sit and listen to a grown up saga.  While listening is highly desirable, I contend, again, that when we force this activity for hours a day we are robbing our child of their most important need, imagination.

It's through the imagination that so much is discovered.  Many child development experts are seeing the  importance of the child's imagination and how it helps a child to understand reality. The Wall Street Journal had an interesting article on it in 2009. In the article the author said that the  imagination is necessary on so many levels.  Children use it for learning about people and events that are not directly experienced.   It really allows children to think about the future and what their role in it could be.   Paul Harris, a development psychologist and professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education specializing in the imagination said, "the imagination is absolutely vital for contemplating reality, not just those things we take to be mere fantasy."  So if its so vital how come we don't want our kids to experience it?  We schedule it right out of their lives. 

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”-- Albert Einstein
When we schedule our children with classes and activities several days a week with the idea that we are creating rich learning opportunities, are we really doing that?  No, I honestly believe we are failing as a society when we over schedule our children.  Children need to play, they need to get dirty, they need to make messes, they need to pretend they are a pony or an outlaw riding his bike to his hideout.  They need to pretend they are a princess riding her horse through the forest in search of  unicorns.  They need to experience childhood.  Let them have imaginations.  They need to be able to not have a parent "cramping their style" as they play and tumble in the dirt, making castles in the sky, and watching purple elephants march through the flower beds.  I know that concept may not be will well received, but its true.  Our children need to play and tumble a few times as they learn about who they are and who we are. 

Let the children play!
Another  article on the imagination.

What kinds of things do you notice in your children as they play?


No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for taking a few moments to share your comments with me. It means a lot. Thank you!