The Imagination of Children
I am astounded by the imaginations of my children! So many times lately when I watch Arthur and Fiona playing together (or alone) and listen to their adventures in imaginary worlds and see the elaborate things they make out of pillows and blankets and marbles and tinker toys and whatever, it blows me away!
When I was a child I had a vivid imagination (as most kids). I can remember being so immersed in whatever world I was envisioning that the physical world seemed almost insubstantial. And I recall the wondrous feeling of power that imagination creates, the awe and joy of what our minds are capable of. Hence my love still of science fiction and fantastical stories that take me out of mundane existence. Stories that inspire the contemplation of ‘what if?’
But when I watch my kids, I think their minds are even more unfettered than mine. Arthur often tries to get me to play games he creates with cards, Legos, toy parts, robots, spaceships and all kinds of things. These games are incredibly complicated and detailed, and everything has a purpose and a sequence of actions and reactions, like a computer game in three dimensions. As he explains it all to me I usually have no idea what to do. Because it all unfolds in his mind, and it seems difficult for him to understand that I can’t share what’s going on in his head. There really aren’t substantial boundaries between his inner and ‘outer’ reality. And from my experience, that may be closer to ‘True Reality’ than we realise.
When he and Fiona play together, they’re living out these games in worlds that are so vibrant and real, it’s quite entertaining to watch. Of course Arthur tries to run the show, but she integrates a lot of her own imaginary ingredients in there as well. I especially like observing Fiona when she does her own thing. You’ll often hear her upstairs in her room singing loudly and acting out lengthy dramas with dolls and stuffed animals (heck, she even uses pencils, magnetic letters, pony cards, whatever). She takes on many characters with different voices and emotions. It’s like a one-girl opera!
This is one of my favorite things about being a parent of young kids at my ‘advanced’ age. I get to remember my inner child all the time! To relive the wonders of discovery and creativity from their perspective. We all need play to be healthy, to stay young, to exercise our brains and continue to learn from life, no matter what our age.
That’s another reason I’m glad we’re home schooling. If Arthur were subjected to the regimentation of a class structure, being told to sit still, go here, do this, conform to expectations that seem to me unnatural for a seven year old, I don’t think he’d have the same spontaneity and imagination. And the pressure to conform, to fit in to the pack behaviour of other boys would not be beneficial. At home he definitely has boundaries and expectations of acceptable behaviour. When he’s around boys his own age who attend school, his social skills seem pretty darn good in contrast! I’m glad he has friends who go to both traditional school and home school.
I think playing and exploring and following what really interests you is a better way to learn in general. But these days most kids are so busy with school work and extracurricular activities like sports and dance lessons and music lessons and a dozen other things they can’t just relax and have time to do nothing! We all need to sit still sometimes. To think, to dream, to reflect on our own existence. To just be! Like society in general we have a hard time slowing down and seeing the value of relaxation and contemplation.
So there’s my daily little rant. Gee, that feels good!
The kids are done with their Play-Doh and have cleaned up the kitchen table. Fiona is singing expressively up in her room. Arthur is watching ‘Cyber Chase” on TV. Time for me to contemplate making dinner!
Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire
— W. B. Yeats