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The Playful Imagination: Embracing Childlike Wonder

Updated: Sep 17, 2023

What is a table for a one-year-old? It's like a roof.

You can crouch down under it and feel like the master of a house, a custom-built house, not as big and intimidating as an adult's house.

A chair is fascinating because you can push it around to test your strength, you can tip it over or drag it, you can even hit it (though not too hard) and laugh, "silly chair, ha ha."

For us, tables and chairs are everyday objects that we use automatically. But for a child, they are materials for multidimensional exploration, where knowledge and imagination, experience and symbolism go hand in hand.

A child never stops playing with them, exploring, and forming hypotheses. They make fantastical use of these objects.

So, part of their knowledge might be the understanding that turning on a tap makes water flow. However, this doesn't stop them from believing that "on the other side" there's a "gentleman" who pours water into the hose so that it can come out of the tap.

A child is like a little scientist, but they're also somewhat of an animist (thinking the table is mischievous and gives life to everything). These characteristics coexist in a child for quite a few years.

But should we tell them stories in which household objects are the protagonists, or do we risk harming their scientific spirit?

Playing with real objects helps them get to know those objects better, and we shouldn't limit their ability to play. Imagination is not something to fear. Each object, according to its nature, offers a point of entry into a story.

I, too, have invented stories. Like a prince made of ice cream with a cherry hat on his head who lived in the refrigerator and couldn't wait to melt and turn into a toad. I arranged a marriage between a black dog and a butterfly. I created a character who would visit me at night, at home, and take me flying in the sky among the clouds. I told these stories to my 5 - and 6-year-old grandchildren, who immediately ran to my father and asked, "Is it true?"

How wonderful it is to play with our imagination!

Fables are important, stories are important.

Never stop flying with your imagination, just like a child.

I do it often... and you?

Child, image taken from the Internet
Child, image taken from the Internet

by Loredana Denicola - Thoughts and Reflections


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