We all want the best for our children. We want them to be happy, successful, respected and well-liked. We want them to stand out in an increasingly competitive world and to be the very best they can possibly be. We harbour secret ambitions for their futures, and, in our quest to provide as many advantages as possible, we are often guilty of over-parenting – enrolling them in an endless stream of sports and activities designed to give them that evasive “edge” over others.

Ironically, though, by depriving our children of adequate “downtime,” we are limiting their opportunities to develop their imaginations and creativity.

Imagination is crucial for the development of critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Our children need to be encouraged from a very young age to play, and play hard. Make a mess, explore, splash in puddles, discover all the possibilities of paint and crayons and glue. Take time to wonder at ants marching in a straight line, or at the noise a cricket makes at night in the grass. Build forts out of blankets to create other worlds where they can be other things. Pretend. Dream.

It’s so important to give our children enough opportunities to indulge in this kind of play. Watching TV or spending hours on computer games only makes them passive participants in someone else’s stories. They need the space and time to create stories of their own.

As well as fostering our children’s cognitive development, imagination also builds their social and emotional skills by allowing them to consider different outcomes to situations they encounter. This is a great confidence booster and does wonders for their self-esteem. Enhanced communication skills, wider vocabularies and adaptive learning habits are also all results of encouraging imagination.

It’s not hard to see why Albert Einstein said that, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

The passionate belief that imagination is at the very heart of learning stimulates and inspires the entire ethos of Waldorf teaching. If you’d like to know more, come and see us at the Roseway Waldorf School. We can’t wait to share our vision with you.

Angelique Laaks