I can recall using my imagination daily as a young child. My favorites were pretending to be a contestant on the tv show “Supermarket Sweep“, being a mom with a fussy baby, fighting crime as the pink Power Ranger and of course traveling to different countries eating their cuisine...because I likes to eat.
Over time I used my imagination less. Something happened. Life happened. My imaginary fussy baby was replaced with homework, voice lessons and tv shows. After taking inventory I realized I only used my imagination when performing on stage or preparing for an audition. New interests and responsibilities crept in as I matured and I unknowingly phased out pretend play. One of the benefits of being around children as an adult is being able to reactivate that dormant part of your brain and help advance their development.
Studies done by Scholastic Magazine says that imagination driven play helps children develop their social and emotional skills. Isn’t that amazing? Creating fictitious scenarios actually help with their language skills, problem solving and encourages their creativity.
As an actor/nanny, I encourage adults to interact with the children in their lives using imagination. It's free, simple and can be done anywhere and anytime. It's also a great travel tool as well. A couple months ago while out to dinner, my 5 year old nephew Luke “froze” me mid-bite. After unthawing me, I used my Jedi powers to dramatically pick him up, Darth Vader style (without touching him) from seated to standing position, by the throat. Wish I recorded it because he gave an Oscar award winning performance. His imagination is so vivid and I’m grateful, even when I’m tired, to participate in it because I know it’s fleeting.
In the meantime, I will both encourage his choice to be Spiderman AND talk him off Buckingham Fountain's Fence because...ya know...even Peter Parker has boundaries.