Albert Einstein understood something that most highly creative and successful know—the imagination is where the most potent ideas come from—the ideas that can change your life or change the world. How can we nurture imagination in children? Einstein points the way with his insightful words:
1. Read More Fairy Tales
When Jean Houston was a little girl, her elementary class visited Einstein at his home. One of the children asked, “Mr. Einstein, how can we get to be as smart as you?” And he answered, “Read fairy tales.” Then another kid asked, “Mr. Einstein, how can we get to be smarter than you?” He replied, “Read more fairy tales!” Houston didn’t understand what Einstein meant at the time, but she has come to realize that he was encouraging them to nurture and grow their imaginations. Today, in addition to fairy tales, there’s an abundance of creative picture books that engage children’s imaginations, including Dawn’s new spring titles.
“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.”
Science writer Ainissa Ramirez knows that “we must help children learn how to create ideas and exercise their imaginations.” He asks us to remember that STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) is based on imagination. “Without STEM, there would be no cell phones, microwave ovens, Internet, GPS, cars, or refrigerators…These ideas started in someone’s mind, and with the right resources and skills, they were able to manifest them. NSTA has many engaging STEM resources.
“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
Einstein completed his thought above this way, “For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world.” One way to support children’s imaginations is through Imaginary Inquiry. It’s a teaching approach that brings together three strategies: inquiry, drama, and imagination. “In an imaginary world you and the children can be anyone, at anytime, anywhere, doing anything. They can travel to strange islands, explore new planets and different worlds, build pyramids, or travel up the beanstalk to rescue Jack from the Giant.” Find out more.
“Play is the highest form of research.”
Children today are not being asked to imagine their own stories. Stories, games, and ideas are provided to them through television, video games, and other media. Kathy Eugster, a play therapist, comments, “Instead of using their own imaginations to learn about the world and create something, children are passive recipients of visual and auditory stimulation.” A powerful way to recharge kids’ imaginations, according to Eric Liu, author of Imagination First, is to reduce or limit screen time. Cutting back on media and over-scheduling opens up time for play, and allows kids to be kids. Get ideas for imaginary play.