The Sheer Joy of Imaginative Play
And He has filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom and understanding, in knowledge and all manner of workmanship to design artistic works, to work in gold and silver and bronze, in cutting jewels for setting, in carving wood, and to work in all manner of artistic workmanship. –Exodus 35:31-33
From the beginning, God has endowed humans with creative gifts, and there is nothing like the sheer joy of imaginative play as a child develops. A LEGO block becomes an orchestra director’s baton. A dry erase marker becomes the pointer for the show host. The jungle gym becomes a restaurant. The blanket-covered kitchen table becomes a Mars home base.
Imaginative play is characteristic of the sheer joy of childhood. Yet, we sometimes leave this behind… as children grow older, we fill their lives with intense schedules, and often forget that they, too, need space for play, imagination, and creativity.
Imaginative Play Echoes the Creator
In play, we practice imagination. And, in imagination, we practice creativity. And when we practice creativity, we imitate our Creator who made all that exists and flung the stars into space.
Where did He get the idea for a clown fish? It was in His imagination. Where did He get the idea for a solar system? It was in His imagination. Where did He get the idea for a gigantic sunflower? It was in His imagination. Where did He get the idea for songbirds, sunsets, and strawberries? It was all in His imagination.
We imitate our Creator when we imagine and create. Imagination and creativity are valued skills of potential employers and asset mindsets for problem solving in a real-world context.
Imaginative Play at Home
As you think about your homeschool day, never underestimate the value of scheduling non-structured time for your children to relax, play, imagine, daydream, play games, paint, draw, watercolor, sing, dance, sculpt, bake, build, etc. Imagination and creativity tap into part of God’s image in us, deserving ample time and space for development to better prepare us for the work He plans for us to do. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10
- Lord, what do my children need as far as space for creativity and imaginative play?
- Lord, show me what is in my heart. Do I devalue imaginative play as non-productive when it is clear that we imitate you in imagination and creativity?
- Lord, show me the value of unstructured time in my student’s development.
Dear Lord, thank you for all you have created, including my very creative children. Help me to see the value of unstructured time in the daily routines of homeschooling. Help me find increasing ways to nurture my children’s development in imaginative play and creativity, whether through art, music, drama, creative writing, culinary skills, homedécor, building, and free time. Lord, enliven your Spirit in my children and expand their creative intelligence for your glory alone, Amen.
June Hetzel, Ph.D., Dean of Education, Biola University