Imagination = Power

im·ag·i·na·tion: noun / forming mental images or concepts of what is not actually present to the senses; ability to face and resolve difficulties.

One of the most valuable, unique, marketable abilities in a person is their imagination. One's imagination is instilled within during their childhood and throughout their adolescence. Imagination helps children solve problems, because it links them to various different outcomes. Imagination also helps children "practice" real-life skills (pretend grocery shopping, pretend doctor). Tests also show an increased vocabulary, but most importantly... imagination results in creative thinkers, which our world needs to be successful!

Parents and Teachers:

It's a huge part of our responsibility to create opportunities for children to use and develop their imaginations. How is this done?

1. Begin at a very young age to read, read, read to your children. A child can be taken to new worlds and different times. They embrace new characters. Also, reading to your young children creates a respect and deeper understanding for the academic language of text, which is different than oral language.

2. Introduce your young children to music; and not just lullabies from your country. Introduce your children to music from different countries (with varying tempos, rhythms and feels).

3. Sign your child up for dance! (Wait, what?) OK...we might be a little bias! But physical activities for children are also cerebral activities. Start young, when their brains are little sponges.

In dance, there is guided imagery exercises. These work wonderfully with 3 and 4-year-old students. The guided imagery keeps their minds in an imagery world, while their bodies are executing the physical exercises that are discussed: Stretching, reaching, bending, twirling, pointing... Thus creating a mentally and physically creative dancer (while building strength).

Guided imagery CDs to use in class

Here are some of the suggestions we can provide to teachers of what I call guided imagery, imagination, creative/educational CDs:

1. Fitness Beginnings

2. Exercise Songs & Music for kids

3. Bewonder Kids

4. Giddio

5. Cozy Children

6. Children's Kindness Network (Songs can be purchased on iTunes)

7. Juno Baby

8. Musical Yoga Adventures

These artists have compiled music that merges mental imagination with physical activity. It connects a mental concept with movement. Children are required to think and act at the same time. You will see little faces light up, and you will feel their sense of accomplishment by the end of the class.

For teenagers, we encourage them to:

1. Keep a journal: About their dance notes, but also about their life experiences. Encourage them to write down their thoughts, feelings, experiences and plans. This is a way for them to keep notes about their progress, but also reflect on their experiences and feelings, while developing their writing skills (covertly!)

2. Learn about literature and music and history: Not just the generalities of each, but the technicalities and all of the small things that add up to the big things.

3. Stay inspired. Stay learning. Always have "a little something" up your sleeve. If you love movies, follow that passion. If you love magazines, try writing for one. Always have something in your plans.

4. Give back. Volunteer. Share. This will keep you motivated, happy and believing in change.

5. Visualize what they want to achieve. We always tell dancers that dancing is 90% mental. We ask them to close their eyes and visualize, over and over, them executing a perfect grand jeté. This always brings positive results.

6. Take quiet time. We encourage them to turn on their favorite music, or just stay silent and take time to themselves.

Imagination is what makes our world colorful and special. Share this with others, but always keep a little of it for yourself too, to nurture, to have and to hold.

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Design & Development by Shane Jeffers