What A WonderFul World. The Importance Of Children’s Fantasy
When was the last time you really felt that you used your imagination and creativity? And: where does your creativity come from?
I (Anna) think that creativity probably originates from our innate ability to imagine freely without limits from when we were children ourselves.
Rational thinking is of course needed as we grow up. Yet, fantasy helps children deal with and learn about life as well. They copy what they experience and they play it out. Sometimes it’s dramatic, somtimes not, and sometimes they seem to ‘get things wrong’ while they’re growing and learning.
But children very well understand the fine line between reality and fantasy. They just need to play – a lot – and without constant interference from us grown ups.
Leave The Helicopter On The Ground
Supporting your child’s imaginative gift is very simple, yet it can be very difficult for us parents: Sometimes it just means leaving the helicopter on the ground and letting them be. Not always monitoring, not always interfering and not always lecturing.
The Earth Worm Tree
Earthworm Tree? Don’t worry, it’ll make sense.
As I’ve told you in previous newsletters, Helle Heckmann- the Childcare Pro in our company- has often inspired me to think differently about my children. And I want to illustrate this by sharing a short story from my youngest son’s life. It’s a few years back, but it’s still a sweet little reminder for me about cherishing the power of pure imagination in my childrens minds:
My youngest son at the age of 3 1/2 one day came running to Helle, while playing in the lush summer garden of her Kindergarten, and told her with pure excitement: “Helle, Helle! I have three little earthworms”, revealing three wriggling worms in his open palm and also displaying two fingers on his other hand, indicating the number of worms.
He then looked up at the apple tree nearby, then back at the worms again. Then sat down at the ground and claimed: “I’m digging a little hole now. I’ll put in the worms, so I can grow a nice Worm-Tree!”
Finally he padded carefully onto the ground once the worms were neatly planted in the soil, and ran off, entering a new game in the back of the garden, carefree and joyful.
Helle could have told him: “Oh, but no, you cannot grow a worm-tree! Worms already live in the soil and they devour plants and thus help improve the soil for plants to….” But she deliberately didn’t. She told me that explaining this to him would actually only narrow down his world into a place where some things just aren’t possible. And she would have disturbed his game.
Instead Helle just stood there, smiled and said “yes,” a few times, sharing his inner experience of flow. He was in the midst of magical wonders and endless possibilites and she didn’t want to disturb him.
I like this story so much, because I learned many things from it:
- That respecting childrens fantasy means letting go of the need to control and correct
- That I as a grown up can learn to open up to more possibilites in life instead of narrowing down my childs ditto
- That rational knowledge will come inevitably – and that the child can always learn about earthworms later on…
Maybe my son won’t remember this situation when he grows up. But that’s not the point. The point is that hopefully he will still bear the feeling of possibility and magic inside him. The feeling of living in a world that he wants to explore.
Now back to you: Do you sometimes feel that you have to correct your child from grave misunderstandings about how the world works, worrying that if you don’t, it will get it all wrong? Do you sometimes over explain things when the child makes completely inacurate conclusions? We all do this, and sometimes all we need is a reminder or some inspiration to act differently.
Next time your child comes running to show you foot prints from a bear, some rock from another planet or a (dirty) treasure from the far-away-land, do you want to try to just smile and share the experience with your child instead of correcting it?
Feel free to comment or start a conversation with us.
We’re here to talk and share.
Thank you so much for reading all the way to the end!
Anna & Helle