I don’t know much about fantasy, but my daughter does. I suppose I introduced her to it through literature and playtime. When she was two, I was determined to potty train her, but wanted to do it in a fun way. I would have her sit on the potty, sometimes for half an hour, and perform puppet shows for her. Her potty was her seat, and eventually she would pee and I would get excited— the encouraging mom that I am. Perhaps it was unconventional (insert picture of me) but, not only did she learn to use the potty pretty quickly without pressure, her world of fantasy began. (Who’s writing about bathrooms now?)
Who knows who she will grow up to be. A foundation in creative fantasy play will give her the building blocks for problem solving, thinking outside the box, and invention so that she can be anything she wants. Anything else?
Encouraging and preserving her imagination and her fantasies is important to me. She knows the difference between fact and fiction but chooses to mesh the two. She takes her fantasies and learns about life through them.
Not everybody understands, or wants to, the importance of fantasy in children. One of the reasons I decided to homeschool my daughter was because the school she was at discouraged her fantasies. The teachers had an opportunity to build on her creativity and her writing skills. Instead, the head teacher requested a meeting with my husband and I even though we had already spoken with her about it; they questioned our daughter, didn’t support her when another child teased her for her ideas, and didn’t share her work if it included fantasy.
What’s her fantasy? She turned her favorite baby doll into her real sister. The teachers created such a big deal about her fantasy that ultimately they stopped her from talking about it at school and writing about it. At home, she has written a long story and written and drawn pictures for her sister— so, two stories for each project.
I believe that her teachers wanted to support her, but didn’t know how. Fantasy has become a big topic for me.
In Teach Your Own, the author says,
…we should be content to watch and enjoy as much of children’s fantasy lives as they will let us see, and to take part in them, if the children ask us to and if we can do so happily and unselfconsciously. Otherwise, we should leave them alone. Children’s fantasy is useful and important to them for many reasons, but above all because it is theirs, the one part of their lives which is wholly under their control. We must resist the temptation to make it ours.
And from Raising Freethinkers:
It is just as important to encourage our children’s imagination and artistry as it is to encourage their reasoning abilities and love for science.
Today, after reading, writing, listening to related music, and math, my daughter decided that we were going to fly to Germany. This became an all-day event. My fourteen kids all packed their suitcases and found their seats on the airplane. We all had blankets because the airplane was freezing!
I’m afraid to see what is packed in all fourteen bags and what the clean up will be. Games in our house are so intricate that they sometimes carry on for days or weeks (or months). Her games inspire me to follow up on her ideas— don’t think I won’t be getting library books about Germany now.
My hope is to write many stories with her, and that way we’ll learn from each other; together.