Sunday, November 3, 2013

Modeling Imagination

Here's a tip I've drawn from Baby Minds: Brain-Building Games Your Baby Will Love, the book Dr. Susan Goodwyn and I wrote following publication of our book about signing, Baby Signs.

The natural inclination of children is to become less rather than more creative as they get older. However, there are ways you can support the development and survival of imagination as you child moves from birth to age 3 and beyond. One way is to model how to play make-believe. Young children naturally imitate what the important people in their lives do, from eating with utensils to dressing up in grown-up clothes. So doesn’t it follow that seeing you use your imagination will inspire them to do the same? At the same time you’ll also be giving them hints about how to go about pretending—that puppets can talk, that “plots “ can be silly, that blocks can be cars, and that even big people think it’s all a great idea.

Your efforts should begin at a very early age. Simply sipping imaginary tea from a cup or taking an imaginary bit of food from your baby’s cookie is a start. Many parents engage in such play intuitively, but our research shows that many who should—particularly parents of boys—do not. This type of play has the extra benefit of promoting language development because, unlike simply manipulating parts of toys, make-believe scenarios naturally involve talking. In fact, we can’t think of a single downside to joining your infant, toddler or preschooler in playing make-believe.

Happy Signing (and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook)!


Linda Acredolo, Ph.D.
Co-Founder, the Baby Signs® Program
Professor Emeritus, UC Davis
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