Think for a moment about how many times a day you look out a door or a window. Do you gaze outside to rest your eyes or enjoy looking at a view? Does looking at the sky or a pond help you de-stress or relax?
Right there!–that moment when you relax and rest your brain–that’s the key to opening the door that leads to imagination, which has been the root of every step forward, the beginning of all inventions, and the seed of each new idea that moves humankind forward.
Sometimes people think that imagination is a thing that kids “have” when they paint a picture or write a poem in school, and that serious learning doesn’t take place until they move on to facts, figures, and formulas. Over a century of educational and psychological research tells us that’s incorrect. In fact, it’s quite the opposite!
We need our imaginations our whole lives. Adults and children thrive when the imagination is fed with new experiences, new books, or visits to museums. Our brains learn and our minds open wider when we create a piece of art or simply take time to think about the doodle we just drew in a notebook.
I offer a challenge to you and it involves an open door. Henri Matisse painted a number of works centered on views through windows and doors, but my favorite is Open Door, Brittany (1896). The calm colors, the light and shadows–perhaps a slight breeze?–invite you to pause.
Matisse shows you what he sees outside that door. What about you? Imagine your own view through the door. Fill in the picture with ideas. Shake them up and try on different perspectives. Take a playful approach. Grow your adult brain with new practices and experiences and talk about them with your child.
The more you practice using your imagination, you’ll find a new window on how your child uses hers. You’ll understand why and how she plays and thinks and grows.
Step into the new year by gazing through the Open Door.