Imagination is the essential third element fulfilling the enlivened mind in the child. Unfortunately, it is the one element that is less valued or gets ignored, and yet it remains the most crucial ingredient for developing purpose, meaning, depth, and soul. Imagination refers to each person’s quest to create, to amplify possibilities, and to conceive of a better world. Yes, imagination is frequently seen in the art class, but we also see imagination as the free flow of energy and ideas that leads to problem-solving and helps children to awaken and enlarge their sense of human experience.

Many see imagination as something quite separate from real knowledge, but imaginative and creative play is how children make sense of the world around them. The good teachers and the good early childhood programs will understand and embrace the use of the imagination in their lessons; good teachers know that role playing, using materials in novel ways–creating props to represent furniture or other household objects or to depict natural scenes—contribute to the child’s imaginative world and can elevate their social and communication skills, as well as build their knowledge base.

While some also see imagination as a feature that is okay for early childhood, but then must fade out as a child grows up in order to enhance one’s knowledge and appreciation of the real world, keeping minds enlivened and growing throughout life requires ongoing imaginative exercise and practice. Far from just child’s play, as one moves into adolescence and beyond into adulthood, the imagination will have considerable and serious applications in life: navigating one’s spiritual journey; working through difficulties in relationships; strategic planning; inspiring entrepreneurial ventures; and simply solving problems of all kinds and complexity.

How can we fire up the imagination, stoke its perpetuation, and ward off all those things that can impede and destroy its existence in our children’s lives? Click into the age groupings below to learn more.

Infants to 4yrs         5 to 10yrs                  11 to 14yrs               High School to College