How to Nurture a Child’s Imagination - Age 1-7
Parenthood can be challenging at times, especially in regards to nurturing your child’s imagination. In our times, you have so much media out there, from TV to video games, from Youtube to even social media. It can be such a gauntlet for any one whether life is urban, suburban, rural or farm. In this article we want to offer suggestions for the home where-ever life has brought your family.
Imagination and The Periods of Child Development
When thinking about the healthy nurturing of a child’s imagination, we need to look at the key turning points in their development.
- First Period of Development - Birth to the change of teeth (around age 7)
- Second Period of Development - Age 8 through to puberty (around age 13)
- Third Period of Development - About 14 (though becoming younger in our time) to early adulthood (about 21).
These development periods have been defined by the tenets of Waldorf Education. This educational philosophy is now 100 years old and now has over 1200 worldwide schools. Waldorf Education has proven the clarity and value of presenting new ideas as keys to education and the nurturing of a child’s imagination.
The Three Guiding Principles of Imaginative Development
Waldorf presents three guiding principles as guides to a child’s imaginative development. These are Goodness, Beauty and Truth. This is coupled with a sensitive selective recognition of how and when nurturing of the imagination is fulfilled.
Each of the periods of development are embraced by one of the three guiding principles. In the first period it is goodness, in the second beauty and in the third truth.
Focusing on the first period of development, this period has to do with the development of the will. Thus for a child of 1-7 the nurturing of imagination is unlocked through activity. Parents and teachers should focus on doing things with the child.
Here are some examples of simple activities you can do with your child to nurture their imagination:
- Cooking and the world of food
- Play that is imitative of the world around the child but physical in nature.
There are many resources and products that encourage this imaginative play that focuses on physical activity. Here at Enchantmints we’ve designed our line of products with this philosophy in mind. For example, Fairy Forest Lodge encourages children to open and close, put in and put out, click puzzle pieces together etc.
Pushing Reading Doesn’t Help Imaginative Development
There is no emphasis in Waldorf education on early reading. This may come as a shock to some, as the standard idea nowadays is to get kids reading as early as possible.
Reading is important, but will come later. I know from experience with my own daughter. At 8 years old she was barely reading and by the time she was 10 she was reading Shakespeare. The process of awakening comes when the physical organism has matured to allow the thinking to begin to activate fully in a wholesome manner. If the individual child needs to read when younger then acceptance is a key. That is very different than having it taught.
Don’t get me wrong, parents should definitely read to their children, especially before bed. This is an important preparation for reading and develops that desire to read and a love of reading in early childhood. What will become the child’s imagination has been physically nurtured through activity, not yet through communicating ideas to the child.