by Kim Watkins, Redeemer School
“The soul never thinks without a mental picture.”
Do you remember the time in your life when your imagination ran wild? When read-aloud stories transported you to another time and place, and when long afternoons were made magical by make-believe play?
Imagination is the faculty or action of forming new ideas, images or concepts of external objects not present to the senses. The imagination supports child development in many ways. It builds skills like problem-solving, language usage and emotional regulation. Imagination is foundational to creativity, hope and faith.
Though imagination feels magical, it’s actually a God-given capacity that caring adults can help cultivate in children. We can feed the imagination simply by making a habit of imagining. British educator Charlotte Mason wrote that imagination, “like every other power of the mind, is the merest germ of a power to begin with, and grows by what it gets; and childhood, the age of faith, is the time for its nourishing.”
At Redeemer School, we nourish the habit of imagining as a special focus in the month of November. This is when we emphasize activities that form students who:
Delight in tales of imagination (e.g. heroic adventures, fairy tales) rather than ludicrous
Express themselves freely through diverse and various mediums,
Exhibit curiosity in learning, and
Can form a mental picture of something that is not present.
Charlotte Mason believed that children should be exposed to a feast of living ideas. They allow them to “go forth well furnished, because imagination has the property of magical expansion, the more it holds the more it will hold.” You can cultivate the habit of imagining at home by providing regular opportunities for the imagination to flourish:
Nurture imagination by reading good books.
You know you’re reading good books when your children reenact scenes from the stories in their play! Good stories have the ability to transport us to faraway lands and inspire us to action. Look for interesting, strong, well-written books that are a step or two ahead of your child’s reading level for great read-alouds.
Exercise imagination by illustrating scenes from stories and poems.
A simple and effective way to exercise the imagination is to read a book or poem aloud and encourage children to draw the scenes they heard described. Use colored pencils, crayons, markers, or sidewalk chalk for an activity that can travel wherever you are.
Expand the imagination by studying great works of art and architecture.
Interacting with art and architecture will build a mental gallery of pictures, which are available to the imagination at any time. Local resources, such as Reynolda House Museum of American Art and the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA), allow you to get up close and personal with wonderful artwork. You can also borrow large format art and architecture books from your local public library.
Redeemer School is a community of like-minded families committed to nurturing students in their relationship with Jesus Christ and engaging them in the lifelong pursuit of wisdom and knowledge as they discover, embrace and integrate God’s truth in all of life.