When I was little I had an imaginary friend called Tom (from Tom Thumb) ..we had a lot of fun playing together and occasionally getting into high jinx together .. he was quite naughty sometimes and used to write my name on walls lol. He also had to sit at the table with us and eat supper.*
..I also had an imaginary dog .. and when we went out and about I'd take it for a walk holding an imaginary lead in my hand.
My mum played along and tells me it was all harmless fun. She suspects it was really because for 5 years I was an only child and though I went to Playgroup a couple of mornings .. school didn’t start until 5 .. so instead Tom and the Dog joined me at home in an imaginative adventure, creating our own play stories. Studies show how important imaginary play is in the Early Years and leaving kids to ‘hang on the gatepost’ rather than micromanage their every activity and thought is essential.
For my 5th birthday they came home with a real friend in the form of my little sister ;-) .. Tom and my little dog didn't really stand a chance then and moved on to a new family as I had baby work to get on with.
However the imaginative play didn’t stop there .. As my sister grew up into an age where she could properly play, we entered our own incredible world..we had this amazing box of dressing up clothes (real old lady clothes and capes and even a range of gentleman’s spats that we found in an attic when we moved house) we had a log cabin in the garden just for us and we would act out many different scenarios with invisible personages playing the roles we needed.
As we grew into the age of dolls .. our imagination continued .. we didn’t have the expensive dolls houses so instead used the Encyclopaedia Britannia collection stacked on their sides to make wall dividers … dividing up our floor into many different rooms .. not to brag but our Sindy’s lived in a huge complex… and by then our brother had arrived with all his more boys toys so Sindy fell in love with Action Man – who knew ?!?
With my own children I ensured that they too had a dressing basket full of clothes .. and we still had the log cabin .. our son in particular liked creating his own versions and outfits like Robin Hood out of a Peter Pan hat and top, his sister’s tights and some wellington boots and our daughter loved playing the role of teacher lining up all the soft toys (she would do this in French)
Now they have outgrown those beautiful costumes but all of their dressing up now line the rails in the various KidooLand’s .. I have certainly got my money’s worth out of that Peter Pan outfit and also huge joy that so many children have been able to live their own imaginative dreams through it.
Roll forward 40+ years for me personally and I would say that over the years the imagination has continued in many forms and on many levels. In my career in Corporate .. thinking out of the box was the buzz word of the decade and we were rewarded for finding solutions that saved time and money.
Now running my own company and my love of repurposing and taking an idea and bending it to how I feel it could be used within KidooLand teaching English has become a real skill that not only benefits the children we serve, shows them how to upcycle and recycle, saves the planet and saves us money but also gives me creative contentment. I am really lucky that through my work I have been allowed to carry on being really creative. I firmly believe that we can all continue through life being creative but shouldn’t get held up on the idea it needs to include holding a paintbrush .
So I am a firm believer that imaginative play has an essential part in the Early Years but that for a truly successful future and self satisfaction it must be taken on into Maternelle, Primary and College right through to Uni and work. For my own children I feel we have put some great foundations in place .. they did a huge amount of theatre and performing Arts both at KidooLand and in my theatre Troup Flame and with other local groups too right into Collge. Now they are in 6th form and Uni they still make videos, record songs , get artistic and I have had a constant supply of books on hand for them to get lost in.
It makes me really sad that education globally – particularly once they hit High School age focuses so much on STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Maths) .. where is the A for Arts to make STEAM? We are doing our children such a disservice by not giving as much importance to the A
So if you want the best for your child like I do, if you dream of them having a great career or even running a company then think STEAM .. sow those creative imaginative seeds and keep them watered through life. Do not adhere to the train from the waist up group who don’t value theatre, dance and the Arts.
If you live nearby KidooLand can help as we are just so much more than an English class .. imagination and creativity is part of our DNA and just like my own kids, yours are welcome to climb aboard the KidooTrain.
Don’t forget, at KidooLand we don't charge extra for imaginary friends!!
* Imaginary friends are generally harmless but when a child blames them for doing something they shouldn’t, the best policy is to say that it isn’t possible that they did that so that your child understands they have to take responsibility for their own actions.
When your child asks you to set the table for their friend use it as an opportunity to teach some life skills and get them laying the table.
In some rare cases the imaginary friend can be a result of a childhood trauma or could become malicious and mean – we recommend medical support should be sought at this point.