Unleashing the Imagineers: a preview of life's coming attractions
Mahreen Zuberi leads the Imagineers team at Civitas. She has been working as a visual artist and a children's book illustrator for several years, and has been part of the visiting faculty of SVA Beacon House National University, C.A.S, and Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture.
Imagining is the ability to form new images and sensations in the mind that are not perceived through the senses. The formative years are the most important years for a child's mental development. Engaging children in stimulating activities, exposing them to new experiences and bigger, more exciting opportunities helps them make consequential connections. Through repetition and reinforcement, these connections feed into existing networks in their brains and allow them to think and learn. Urging children to use their imaginations, the faculty at Civitas, spurs their brains into forging imagination pathways of their own.
Creative play is a concept that allows such self-directed learning, where the role of the teacher is to stimulate learning and not control it. It enables children to negotiate and find solutions independently, as well as with the help of their peers. Using creative play, the teacher provides children with an environment where greater emphasis is laid on the process rather than the outcome. While this approach is abundant in younger children, as we grow older, academics begin to take precedence over a child's creativity and imagination. It is for this reason Civitas offers to extend the concept of Creative Play to the higher grades.
Creative Play involves several elements including Art, Music, Movement, Role play and Self-directed storytelling. Old sheets become super-heroes' capes, towels become turbans, upturned boxes become caves - there is no limit to a child's flight of fancy. Imaginative play is essential to a child's social development. It allows them to be what they want to be, act out experiences that are significant to them, and help them understand different emotions. By engaging in imaginative play with their peers, they are experimenting with collaborative decision making, cooperation, and are also practicing their social skills.