Fostering Imagination

We want to foster imagination and creativity in Hannah Rose.  To further that aim, we’ve been doing some things differently of late.  We have drastically reduced her screen-time (all tv, movie, computer, video game time combined) to no more than 1 -2 hours a day.  That’s the max–there are days when she has zero screen-time.  We’ve also decided to curb some of the Disneyana that we were buying her.  We’re still buying her some Disney products–but we’ve decided that those products will be things that won’t necessarily help her re-create a Disney movie.  For instance, she’s getting a Disney Princess kite–it’s still Disney, but it’s a kite.  It doesn’t really matter what’s on a kite cause you run in a park with it and fly it.  (Or a beach…)

I can’t say this has been the easiest thing to do.  It hasn’t been.  It’s been a big adjustment for all of us.  I see Tinkerbell or Disney Princess whatever–and I’m wanting to buy it for her!  I know she’ll like it…but then I take a deep breath, and think about what’s best for her.  If that doesn’t work, Chris drags me away from whatever is calling to me at the moment.  We’re working on introducing new toys and new ways to play. 

Reducing screen-time hasn’t been the easiest either.  We’re getting more used to it and establishing new routines.  I think once it’s a bit warmer and we’re outside playing more, it’ll be even easier.  (Can you say swimming pool?  Yes! we have one and I plan for us to take great advantage of it!)  It’s just too easy first thing in the morning when neither Chris nor I are fully awake, and she is, to put on some cartoons for her to watch.  The television is easy entertainment. 

However, I do believe our efforts are beginning to pay off!  We had Hannah Rose for an extended weekend this past weekend due to her Easter break.  I’m noticing a difference in her play.  Wednesday I printed up some Easter colouring pages for her.  She had fun colouring and decorating them.  (She really enjoys art projects.)  Then, instead of going the easy route and turning on the tv while we waited for Chris to get home–I asked her to tell me a story about the little girl in the drawing.  I got a whole half hour of stories and songs for the asking!  The next morning she was telling me even more stories about the little girl she christened, “Wendy.”

To create her stories, she wove laces of reality, books, movies, songs, and things she pulled out of the air.  This is creativity.  Creativity is more than merely fashioning something out of nothing.  It also entails taking what is and combining it in ways that give rise to new forms.  This is the beginning of “thinking outside the box.”  She’s making her own songs; lyrics and melodies.  When she sits at our electronic piano, she hears the tune the demo plays–and then makes up her own songs and harmonies to go with it.  Granted, she’s no Mozart (who is these days?)–but I love the creativity! 

She even went on a camel hunt with Chris this past weekend.  At one point Chris was a camel–but then she also found two more camels that weren’t Chris.  Who knew camels lived in our house?! 

We can still see the effect of Disney and movies on her play, and that’s ok.  We don’t mind it having some effect–we just don’t want that to become a limiting box on her imagination and creativity.  So sometimes when we go down to the basement, we walk into Tir na nOg.  I become the fairy Rosetta, and she’s Tinkerbell.  At other times, we’re being chased by evil cheese and the Rock Monsters in the basement save us.  I can live with Tinkerbell and Rock Monsters in the basement.  After all, the greatest crime would be that the basement is only and always ever just a basement.

This video is from Wednesday night when she was telling me stories about “Wendy.”