Imagination vs. no-nonsense play


By Tom and Dee and Cousin Key



Dear Grandparenting: My husband and I agree about most things but we part ways when it comes to our little grandchildren. My husband is a retired mechanical engineer, which helps to explain his no-nonsense approach. He tries to teach our grandkids about practical things like how to add and subtract numbers. I am just the opposite. I like to get their imaginations running wild with ideas and the joy of make-believe.

Last weekend, my husband had a little fit after the grandchildren went back home with their parents. He actually scolded me! He said my fun and fantasy were a waste of time that would not help the grandchildren succeed in life. I agree that life does get very serious later on. But when you are 7, 5 and 4, isn’t make-believe a positive thing? Like I always say, if you can’t imagine it, then you can’t do it. Dreams are what set us in motion. Grand Fran, Des Moines, Iowa

Dear Fran: Tell your husband to step down from his high horse and stop being so rigid. We are as concerned as anyone about the need for grandchildren to earn a living — eventually. But eliminating imaginative play is not the way to go about it. Decades of research have substantiated the essential role that acting out and pretending can play in child development.

It’s a skill to be encouraged, not stomped on. “Human beings have a gift for fantasy,” said Paul Harris, professor at Harvard’s School of Education. “(It) shows itself at a very early age, and then continues to make all sorts of contributions to our intellectual and emotional life throughout the lifespan.”

Grandchildren who engage in this sort of magical thinking and play with imaginary friends aren’t merely on their way to becoming more creative. By pretending to be contrived characters, they experience walking in someone else’s shoes, which promotes empathy and social skills. They learn how to share and interact cooperatively

The benefits don’t stop there. Researchers have linked “high quality pretend play” to improved literacy, science and mathematics — yes, math, which will please your husband. Pretend play often confronts children with a variety of problems to solve. Constructing an imaginary world is harder than it may seem. Since children have to improvise and make do with what’s at hand, it builds resourcefulness and self-reliance. That strikes us as a skill set we could all use.

GRAND REMARK OF THE WEEK

Becky O’Shea from Lady Lake, Florida, called granddaughter Madison on Christmas Day as she always does.

“Did you get what you wanted for Christmas?” she asked.

“What I really want is peace on earth,” said Madison. “That’s probably way too much to ask.”

http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/47/2016/01/web1_Hardies_grandparenting-fz.jpg

By Tom and Dee and Cousin Key

Dee and Tom, married more than 50 years, have eight grandchildren. Together with Key, they welcome questions, suggestions and Grand Remarks of the Week. Send to P.O. Box 27454, Towson, MD, 21285. Call 410-963-4426.

Dee and Tom, married more than 50 years, have eight grandchildren. Together with Key, they welcome questions, suggestions and Grand Remarks of the Week. Send to P.O. Box 27454, Towson, MD, 21285. Call 410-963-4426.