Imaginative play is acknowledged to be a very important part of a child’s development and there has been much written about it and how the pace of modern life is squeezing out the time for free play. A child will play with almost anything from simple found objects, the box a gift came in, or by making a den from chairs and a blanket.
It is so important for the free, unstructured imaginative play to be allowed to develop. Playing organised games, although of value for learning to play together, developing co-operation and physical and mental development as well as for enjoyment, does not leave a child’s mind free to follow his own creativity; nor does the use of computer games.
Children enjoy all computer related objects from the mobile phone, now so full of beguiling applications, to the hand held games and TV. They have an uninhibited natural ability to work with them. However there have been some disturbing findings about the use of computers and the developing brain For example there are noticeable behavioural traits showing short attention span, impatience, superficial thought process, dislocation from reality, inability to emphasise, inability to articulate thoughts or emotions and isolation.
As a species with a fundamental need to communicate and the ability to communicate in so many, many ways via all our senses, we become insular and isolated, spending more and more time confronting one screen or another. When social communication is sought it is so often dysfunctional. Face to face communication is awkward. We are forgetting to talk with one another. It is easier to invent and re-invent ourselves on line.
A child’s room may be a place they can withdraw to for quiet imaginative play, to read, draw and colour or play with friends. It is also a very personal space and children love their own special things, not just toys but things that capture their imagination – a bedside lamp, a rug they can play with, bookends, measuring charts. It is also a place where their toys are kept, played with and shared.
After the bed the chair is the most frequently used object. Why not make that a toy as well, not just a piece of furniture? Children are delighted by there own special furniture, although reduced sized adult furniture has a limited appeal. For example, watch a child’s reaction to the small tables and chairs in a coffee shop or shop. They run towards it, pick it up (boys turn it over) and then they lose interest and move closer to be near their parents. Their imagination is not engaged by the furniture; it’s just a chair.
Childhood is such a beautiful, fragile and wonderful time, never to be repeated. The child’s fresh unstructured way of seeing things of reacting to objects and ideas is a joy to see. Their imagination is boundless, fresh and of immense importance to their development.
Isn’t it delightful to see a child acting out their imaginative games? It makes lovely memories for us to store away as they grow up.