The Imagination of a child
What is imagination? Imagination is defined as forming mental images concepts of things that are not actually present to the senses. In other words, imagination is where a child uses one object to represent another (which is an abstract concept). The imagination of a child is fertile ground for growth, and thanks to our reality based lessons we can help! Maria Montessori states, “The secret of good teaching is to regard the child’s intelligence as fertile field in which seeds may be sown, to grow under the heat of flaming imagination.”
As Montessori guides/teacher, we know that as a child grows and develops into new levels of learning, they will move from working with their hands, to being curious in how things work and why they work. We respect all reasonable forms of activity in which the child engages and tries to comprehend, without erasing the intricate designs and impressions that speak to the soul of the child and is represented in their work. Didactic materials are self-correcting and provide a sense of belonging and aids the child in its exploration of the work. Maria Montessori states, “The true basis of the imagination is the reality, and it’s perception is related to exactness of observation. It is necessary to prepare children to perceive the things in their environment exactly, in order to secure for them the material required by the imagination, intelligence, reasoning, and distinguishing one thing from another prepares a cement for imaginative construction.”
Each work placed on the shelves is there to ground the child in reality and begins the framework for abstraction. The skill of imagination begins to form around 18 months and 36 months and doesn’t come into play into the second plane (the 6th to the 12th year of life). Many parents wonder, how they can aid their child’s imagination through real based experiences. You can assist your child in together participating in reality based activities: cleaning the house, sorting laundry, setting the table, preparing clothes for the next day, gardening, or preparing a meal. We consider this to be modeling by action that is concrete.
We set the foundation by having faith that the child will emerge and reveal him/herself. Dr. Montessori states, “We, often forget that imagination is a force for the discovery of truth and as educators it is our duty to stir up the life, but not to imprison it by so many rules and regulations that we stifle the growth of imagination; it must be free to unfold and develop.”