by Lacy Shelton
When I was a child my time was spent outside playing “make-believe” in the backyard with my brothers. We focused on doing things that were fun for us, this could include many different things but among them were those games that allowed us to create a world all our own. With today’s youth however it is becoming the norm to just play games that are already created for you. Video games are among the most popular toys children play with. Even toddlers now have video games catering to them. Yes it is great for children to use these games to help with their hand-eye coordination and many other basic functions, and sure they are a lot of fun, but adults need to remember that a lot of a child’s cognitive learning comes from actually creating and developing things for them to act out.
Remember when you were a child? Remember how nice it was to create a world that only you understood. When you could have a best friend that was a dragon and he would fly you to the moon where you would battle alien forces? You may think I am crazy but by doing those things you were learning. You were learning that you could do anything and all you had to do was use your imagination. Now that you are all grown up you do not have those adventures anymore, but many of us still use our imaginations. For instance if you are in advertising, you need that imagination you used as a child. That imagination brings in the big bucks. Now what if you had never used your imagination? What if as a child your parents just sat you down in front of the television and popped in a Baby Einstein DVD or a learn with Elmo DVD. What if they bought you the best new video game on the market?
All you would do all day is play using someone else’s creativity. Someone else would have invented how the game will begin and how it will end. Now if you follow someone else’s map how will you ever create one yourself?
I know it is sometimes easier as parents to just turn on a tape or DVD. I do the same thing with my niece from time to time. But that cannot be a long-term fix. It is great that these tapes can keep a child occupied and quiet so that mom and dad can get some work done or make dinner. But hey we cannot expect these tapes to teach our children how to be creative. That is still our job as the parent. So now that we know it is important to teach our kids to be creative you are probably wondering, hey, how do I do that? Well you can’t really. A child’s creativity comes from within. Each child will have their own imagination and therefore their own way of doing things. But there are ways to help a child build up their own creativity. And guess what? You don’t even need to buy a DVD.
Now remember the imagination is always on, and is always working. You don’t have to worry about getting your child in a place that will “inspire” them. All you need to do is encourage make-believe. For instance, don’t tell your child what to go play. Try to keep away from phrases like “why don’t you go play with that toy” allow the child to play with whatever they want. Instead of telling a child what to go play try asking a child what they want to play. Do not insist that they play with a certain toy, if they seem disinterested in the toy, let them choose what they want to play with. This may seem like a small thing but it may make the difference in playing by the rules, and making up your own.
Bio for Lacy Shelton
Lacy Shelton is an English Major and a Journalism Minor who currently lives in Caifornia. She divides her time between school free-lance writing, and working for a non-profit organization called Youth Support Association where she has volunteered for the last 9 years. YSA currently works with latchkey children in the High Desert Area in Los Angeles
County; they are currently developing a literacy program for school-age children, their website is http://avysa.org/. Lacy also does a fiction work entitled Life Lessons, about a young girl and her battle with Lupus a form of an auto-immune disease that attacks all the body functions. The story is available online at http://www.keepitcoming.net/life-lessons.html
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