By ‘big’ I mean full. Expansive. Teaching kids to read sets their imaginations on fire. So does playing, coloring—even a video game can spark some juice up there.
But nothing works like reading.
Teaching Kids to Read: Exercising the Gray Matter
Why is reading so important for developing the imagination? Because reading is work. Think about it. When you watch a great movie, the director has created all of the scenes for you. All you need to do is sit back and enjoy. Certainly, good films can go straight to your heart, but they don’t have to work too hard to get there.
Like developing a muscle, reading requires your brain to run through the neural exercise of developing scenes, connecting the plot and filling in all of the gaps. Reading doesn’t use any of your senses. (Sight? Not really. Black slashes on a white page—hardly stimulating. Unless it’s a picture book, you’re on your own.)
Teaching Kids to Read: Sending Imagination on a Lifelong Journey
A well-developed imagination knows how to solve problems. It has a way of mobilizing when something needs fixing. Should we do A or B? What would the ramifications be of each? What could the outcomes be in each scenario? Dreamers think big and figure out how to move mountains when they need to.
Imagination can release someone from a traumatic situation. Re-framing a tragic event by telling oneself a new story about it can relieve suffering and soften a painful memory. Without imagination, the mind can get stuck on ‘what happened.’ This is okay, of course, if someone needs to hold on to the story. But repeating the same story can last a lifetime, and moving on to a happier existence might mean a creative re-scripting of the past.
People with great imaginations are never bored. Waiting in a long line? No problem. One’s own dream world can occupy the mind for hours on end, so that stretches of time with nothing to do invite flights of fancy that take you to faraway places.
And speaking of faraway places, teaching kids to read gives them the chance to travel. Differences between nations and their inhabitants blur when kids read about people who live in unfamiliar worlds. Readers become the characters in books. Children have an intimate knowledge of what it’s like to go to wizard school, be a vampire or get stung by a scorpion as an Olympian half-blood, simply by snuggling up with a bound stack of paper with printed letters on it.
Teaching Kids to Read: Manifesting Big Dreams
In some circles, imagination is the real thing, and reality is merely what we’ve decided is true in order to keep things small, manageable and not scary. I happen to ascribe to this. The universe and its powers are vast, and scientists are demonstrating in new ways how the mind creates ‘waves’ of energy that seek similar frequencies.
These matching frequencies can create new realities that are more suitable to the thinker by ‘magically’ making things happen that seem impossible. When someone applies their imagination to what they want to create in their lives, things begin to happen.
Like amazing coincidences. Or meeting the right person. Or getting a job that had no chance of happening. People who are tapping in to this ‘secret’ are using their imaginations to create new life situations for themselves, their families and even the world.
And who wouldn’t want that for any child?
Speaking of Kids
Online phonics program blog: Musings, stories, and tips about teaching, reading, and parenting.
ABOUT MARY FOLLIN
Mary is the author of TEACH YOUR CHILD TO READ and ETHYR, winner of the Moonbeam Children's Book Award and the Gertrude Warner Book Award. She is mom to two grown sons and enjoys sharing her more seasoned perspective with parents of younger children.
ABOUT KRISTI CROSSON
Kristi is a professional photographer and homeschooling mom of three small children. She has a passion for helping other moms make healthy choices for themselves and their families. To learn more about Kristi, please visit her website.
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