For toddlers, having creative out-of-the-box thinking can be more important than facts
Seeing and believing in possibilities – in alternate realities, futures, ways of being – is a skill. It is a skill that all social activist leaders have. It also happens to come naturally to toddlers who are gaining more and more of an awareness and understanding of their world, but have not yet had their imagination stifled by facts.
I see this ability in one small way with my older toddler, A, who is two and a half. Just a couple days ago we started this new story telling game where we make up the plot together. We start by her setting the scene (the beach, a pool, a mountain, or a jungle are among her favorites). I always start with two people going for a walk or a swim and start making up a story but I stop frequently with prompts such as “What happened next?” “what did they see?” “what did they do?” “where did they go?” With her answer, I continue the story. Sometimes we act it out simultaneously.
In this way we have come across kangaroos in the forest, we have built snowmen on the top of a mountain with a deer, and have painted eggs in the jungle with bunny rabbits – all in just two days – along with numerous other adventures. Do I ever make corrections regarding the correct habitats of animals? Absolutely not. Never. She has plenty of time to learn facts.
For now, and for as long as possible, I want to help her strengthen her imagination. I want her to experience and be comfortable and confident in creating stories. I hope these abilities support her in creating the life she wants in the future.
But also I hope she has at least one larger social or environmental issue that she is passionate about, that perhaps pisses her off, that she is inspired to engage in to forge change. To foster her efforts, may she always see and believe in a reality that has not yet happened. Even if others say it is not possible.