Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere!

Albert Einstein

When we try to resolve an issue or to make a decision, we believe that rationally is the best way. This paradigm makes us prioritise logical thinking over imagination in our children’s education.

Why is imagination so important in our lives?

Imagination is a natural (and powerful) human skill. Imagination is how a child’s mind sees and makes sense of – in a sensitive, concrete form – beings, things and situations of which it has not had a direct experience.

How does it work?

To imagine, the child needs to have something out to perceive something outside of themselves. They then bring it to life in their head by reproducing it in its real form (not only with pictures, but also with sounds or others sensations, according the prefered channel of the child). Then the transformation occurs, a modification through association with something else to create a new thing : a principle, an idea, an object, a useful thing or an artistic shape.

Why is it so important to preserve and develop imagination of our children?


1. It is key for the development of cognitive skills

Stimulating a child's imagination from the very beginning will allow the development of executive skills, essential to learn at school, including the use of language and the sharpening of memory skills. Drawing pictures is one of our most powerful ways to store knowledge and experiences. If you ask a child the difference between bear ears and cat ears, they will use the pictures of these two animals to find the information and provide the right answer.

2. It is required to develop leadership

Imagination provides a strong power: to create objects and form projects. It allows the child to experiment with thought, to make them discover reality from a new angle (the tree becomes different if they see it as a castle full of inhabitants), to formulate hypotheses (“what if…?”). Using their imagination allows the child to explore the world mentally and to make the necessary thinking experiences to make decisions and solve problems. When it is at the service of creation, imagination enriches the real with new ideas, inventing ways to disrupt an established order.

3. It is used to build a common story

At a societal level, imagination makes it possible to federate societies. By embracing people in the narrative of a vision, by describing a future that only exists in imagination, it becomes possible to unite energies and mobilise a huge number of humans beings! Who could have imagined raising the Netherlands from the water?! To find solutions to our issues, to build a desirable future, we definitely need the next generations to think out of the box!

We must stimulate children's imagination so that they can invent what doesn't exist yet.

Karin Serres

4 powerful ways to help your child exercise their imagination through nature-connection

Experimenting and investigating the nature’s curious ways can prove to be one of the best ways to stimulate your child’s imagination.

Early experiences with the natural world have been positively linked with the development of imagination and the sense of wonder.

Richard Louv

From velcro to LEDs that allow more efficient energy consumption, biomimicry exemplifies use of nature as a source of inspiration.

This is primarily due to the unique and infinite richness of the natural environment as a context for experimentation. “When the child plays in a natural environment, they develop an imaginative and creative play that fosters language and collaborative skills.”(Faber Taylor et al. 1998, Fjortoft 2000, Moore & Wong 1997).

The natural world is also a world of constraints, where not everything is allowed – in contrast, for example, to video games or virtual worlds. The child is not given all the riddles or solutions. This forces them to imagine what is not already done.

Finally, nature provides us with the most playful toys ever: wood sticks, leaves, feathers, rocks, shells… Why are they so playful? Because they are at the same time simple (accessible to everyone) and super adaptable and multipurpose. A stick works really well as a poker, digger and reach-extender. It can also be combined with many other things to perform even more functions!

What are easy ways to help your child to develop their imagination?

  1. Provide true moments of bonding free-play in nature: let your child set the rules and take the lead and then accompany them in their story. Be a part of their imaginary world;
  2. Focus and play with the shapes of the clouds, the trees, the rocks… and shape a charactere! Ask what is their mood, what is their life,their voice: imitate!
  3. Guide them to perceive all the diversity of the nature, the variety of the leaves, for example. Later you can ask them what they think the jagged edge of the leaf is for and  let them explore all the possibilities;
  4. Organise regular story-telling walks: take advantage of the natural setting to tell your own tale. Then, step by step, let your child take the lead in the story.

At Naya Nature we develop kid outdoor programmes which help children’s imaginations grow. We focus on all the senses perception (My Root Corner); we learn story telling and act like Molière (Dream Rocks); we create artwork from the harvest (With my hands); and we let the children imagine out of the box solutions to change the world (Eco-Squad’s missions).

Ressources: Sciences Humaines, EZ School, Mother Nature Network