Children: The Inventors of Imagination

Children’s minds are like sponges, ready to absorb a kaleidoscope of imagination

By Patricia Z. Massie

Patricia Massie, children, imaginationThe reality of my becoming a Teacher’s Aide was greatly influenced by my first grade teacher.  Mrs. Lucy Witherow taught children from first to eighth grade and I was the youngest.   Back in 1952, it was a rare opportunity for a child living in the twentieth century to attend a one room school.  The Lone Tree School, built in 1861, was nestled in a quaint rural area of Oroville in northern California.  My experience there was the perfect setting for any child’s imagination, especially in the mind of a six year old.

To mimic is a delightful attribute of a child’s imagination. I know, because I spent a great deal of my childhood mimicking Mrs. Witherow, and it was perhaps an early indication of my love and need to work with children.

I’ve always believed that there was a similarity between children and teachers, an unequivocal need to perform. This, for the most part involves fiction.  My belief derives from one simple question.  When you think of fiction what comes to your mind?  Most of us envision a make believe world of imagination.  Actually, our consensus would be correct.  Webster’s Dictionary defines it as a collection of imaginary characters, the acting out of events and stories. And in regards to a child’s character, these are definite traits that encompass their uniqueness.  The mind of a child is a marvelous invention, and when in their imaginary mode they are surprisingly the inventors.

Don’t underestimate a child’s intelligence, they are smarter than we adults give them credit for, and they are certainly worthy of our respect.  While their minds are considered small, they are supple like sponges, ready to absorb a kaleidoscope of imagination.   If you want to capture the true essence of children, try observing them at play. Make a conscious effort to watch and listen.  You may learn more than you would have ever imagined.

When I was a Teacher’s Aide, the play ground became another world.  I watched with delight at how innovated children could be. I noted how easily they creatively gathered their make believe characters then placed them in an imaginary world of childish transformation.  Soon little Jake, became the caring doctor.  Thomas, became an injured man and Bella in her gentleness became the kindly nurse.  Then without haste, they individually acted out their characters as if they were as real as life itself.  After a while the bell would ring and I would once again call out, “please line up children,” and it was back to the usual normality of children in the first grade.  From time to time, I intuitively glanced at the clock, knowing the bell would ring announcing recess time again.

Still to this day, I fondly recall those smiling little faces eagerly waiting to be excused then racing to be the first in line.  When the door swung open, the scatter of little feet wasted no time running outside to greet their awaiting adventures.  Like a re-occurring television commercial, I watched again the familiar scene unfold, as miniature characters acted out their escapades in fantasy land.  And sure enough, just as I expected, there they were.  Eric, had become an evil King.  Scott, became the gallant swordsman, and adorable Anna had become the enchanted Princess.

My days as a former Teacher’s Aide, was full of never ending surprises, and I’m grateful to have been a part of an imaginary world.  Hopefully I made a difference in a child’s life, because one thing I’m sure of and that is, Children are the legacy we leave to a time we shall not see.