I’m at the beginning of brainstorming a new story. It’s an important one to me, even though its not written yet, because its about a previous student of mine and what happened to her incredible imagination.
How much is too much imagination for a four year old?
Personally, I don’t think there is such a thing. Maybe I’m wrong. I know, at least among my colleagues, I was in the minority in feeling that way. But, it doesn’t feel right to me to tell a child that their monster friends can’t come to my room with my student and learn braille too, or their imaginary Granny, who encourages them, can’t sit next to them. Me-I usually pull up another chair and ask them if they’re comfortable- the monsters too, of course. As a side note, my student was excellent at giving all of her imaginary friends different voices. She could have a future in voice overs.
If the imaginary friends got a little out of hand all I had to do was ask them to to be quiet so their friend, my student, could do whatever it is we were working on that day. Sometimes we had to do 10-20 jumping jacks to get their ya-yas out, but after that things usually went smoothly.
So long story short, my student was told that her imaginary friends weren’t real and that they couldn’t sit next to her in class and as you can imagine my student was upset. It was more than a little odd I thought since the class has imaginary play centers, but . . .
When she came to my room she asked if her imaginary friends could come too. I said that was fine by me. As long as we accomplished whatever we had to that day, and had fun doing it-it was all good. I shared with her some of the picture book stories I was working on and their characters and told her that they all came from my imagination. I encouraged her to consider brailling stories about her imaginary friends. She didn’t go for it at that time, but who knows maybe in the future she will. I hope so, anyway.
It surprised me to feel like the only one who was encouraging her imagination. I don’t know for sure if I was the only one, but it felt like it. And I know she seemed comfortable telling me about her imaginary friends and their stories and didn’t mention them outside of our class, except maybe to her one-to-one. So that’s why its important to me to create a book that shows children that using their imagination is a positive thing, a feel good feeling, something to be cherished, to be nurtured. Because if it happened to one little person I’m sure its happened to others.
Now back to where I was at the beginning, how do I pack all that into 32 pages with a word count of 500 or less? It’s a challenge to my imagination. Wish me luck and good imaginings, please. Beginnings are hard.