Imaginative play encourages creativity and language development in children and helps develop symbolic thinking. It’s something that should always be encouraged yet is taken for granted by adults. If you have small children, you can encourage this kind of play with the following tips.

Tell Stories

Storytelling is a great way to inspire a child’s imagination. While you can certainly read storybooks to your child and encourage them to ask questions, the book itself isn’t necessary. All you need is a positive connection with your child and a good story to tell. They will hang on your every word, and they might even come up with some stories of their own.

Give Them Toys to Foster Creativity

Giving your child a toy will always be a great way to get them to play, but you don’t need anything fancy. In some cases, all you need is a box, some paper, and art supplies like crayons or markers. Your child can use that to make whatever they can imagine. Dolls and stuffed animals can also make great toys for sparking a child’s imagination. Children personify dolls and stuffed animals, give them personalities, and even come up with adventures for them.

Let Your Child Lead

When you play with your child, it’s always best to let them take the lead. They can come up with some great and fun ideas if they are left to their own devices. They might ask you for questions or suggestions of what to do next, but try to avoid anything with a lot of structure or rules. The point is to let your child have fun in creative and imaginative ways that they come up with. If anything, offer suggestions or prompts that might get them thinking.

Embrace Downtime

A lot of caregivers think children need structure in their lives. While some routine is a good thing, downtime should always be embraced. Give your children a chance to be children. They should develop their activities and play that don’t involve rules or a rigid structure. Children are smarter and more imaginative than adults think they are, and they will come up with fun things to do that will surprise you if you give them a chance.