Development of a Child's Imagination

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Dr Montessori emphasizes the importance of the development of imagination. How do cultural activities in a Montessori prepared environment aid in the development….

The ability to imagine is a unique human experience and deserves to be nurtured and encouraged. Dr. Maria Montessori believed that the development of the child’s imagination and creativity are inborn powers within the child that develops as his mental capacities are established through his interaction with the environment. The cultural activities in a Montessori prepared environment helps to foster imaginative skills in the early years which make significant difference in a child’s future development. The children while being educated are encouraged to imagine. This freedom of mind helps them to connect the environment with their imaginations to construct meaningful ideas and pictures. It is like setting a butterfly free to roam from flower to flower from tree to bushes mapping the environment around for recognisation. Imagination makes the brain work hard. As Jacqueline Harding writes,” When children imagine and pretend they break through an important mental barrier. The ability to be creative and imaginative allows the brain to make connections between one area of learning and another. The part of the brain responsible for imagination is located in the frontal lobes and also helps to facilitate reflection, empathy, play and creativity”1. When children engage in imagination and creativity, their brains are signal processing at a higher level: they are literally seeing, sensing, hearing and feeling more of the world Imagination is the faculty through which we encounter everything. The things that we touch, see and hear coalesce into a "picture" via our imagination. Imagination is the power of forming a mental image of something not present to the senses or never before wholly perceived in reality. It is a creative ability or mental capacity for experiencing, constructing and manipulating mental images. From an early age, children engage in imagining, pretending and role-play. It is this habit that is encouraged in a Montessori environment. From as early as an year old, they will start to use one object to represent another. Later, their imaginative play becomes more complex and they will begin to take on specific roles. Soon children will start to involve others in their elaborate

imaginative role play. Thus the importance of development of imagination can be well understood. This in turn helps “to aid the child’s development into a complete adult human being, comfortable with himself, with his society and with humanity as a whole.3 “Imagination as a mental capacity is part of a line of development that begins in the earliest symbiotic interactions between mother and infant, takes further shape as the child moves from dyadic to triadic relations, and culminates in a fully mature capacity to reflect upon in thought one's wishes and feelings vis-à-vis multiple others”.5 Montessori cultural activities typically include geography, history, general science, botany and zoology, music, and art. In art, Montessori classroom offers the sensorial explorer the materials for his own personal experience. From these materials and exercises, the child will have different sensorial stimulations with various points of focus. The child then can learn the art of his own culture, compare it to the art of other cultures, and then potentially endeavor to create his own art. The elements of art are line, shape, form, color, and texture. These elements are experienced and found everywhere in daily life and are specifically found in the sensorial materials. A child needs to choose his own artwork. He must not be forced, in that way his imagination and creativity is not harnessed. This is one of the basic intentions in a Montessori class. Some of the various art exercises practiced in Montessori classroom are painting, drawing and coloring, paperwork, collage etc. Art is an avenue...
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