parenting perspectives

Imagine more imagination

By Gina Romero

I spent my early childhood living in Aniak, a village on the Kuskokwim River. We fished, hunted, rode bikes, hauled wood and raised livestock. Life was simple. I had lots of open space to explore and imagine.

This is the life I want for my two kids but it’s a challenge. We live in the middle of a city. We’re busy. Additionally, we have the added distraction of screens, large and small. Creativity doesn’t come as easy anymore and requires parents to be more intentional about finding those opportunities.

Shape Young Minds

Our journey began in the early years with Kindermusik, a program for young children that aims to promote development through music and movement. My daughter was two and our son was an infant when we started going. The program taught us about the power of simplicity. Blue scarves became water. An oatmeal container and pencil became a drum. My daughter, now 7, writes her own songs and performs them for the family. I am fairly certain Kindermusik helped build that foundation.

Opportunities to Create and Explore







Our daughter’s kindergarten journal at school was filled with all kinds of drawings. She loved to draw during choice time at home and in the classroom. We put her in weekly art lessons to nurture this artistic potential. Recognizing and cultivating interests is key to fostering creativity on a continued basis. Does your child walk through the house singing? Maybe it’s time for voice lessons. Does your little one have a flare for drama? Sounds like a perfect candidate for a theater group.

Get Outdoors

For our family, camping and outdoor play are catalysts for spurring imagination. Campgrounds are where fairy homes are made and where campfire stories are told. The woods are transformed into secret clubhouses and provide an arena for elaborate games that span from day to night.

The journey to an imaginative life takes effort. Fortunately, we live in a vast state with plenty of opportunities to dream and discover.

Gina is pictured here with her family: husband, Reno; daughter, Leah, 7; and son, Reese, 5. Photo courtesy of Erica Rose Photography.

By MaLane Harbour

With the children of the world being so consumed with smartphones, tablets, video games and other form of electronics, I fought introducing these things to my son. Now, at 7 years old, I can no longer fight what he has seen in kids he is surrounded by. I finally gave in (or got sucked-in) to the convenience of allowing games on the tablet then slowly watched the addiction form. He went from climbing trees to sitting on the tablet paralyzed by not only playing games, but watching endless hours of videos on how to perfect the game.

As parents, we have choices not to conform to what we see happening in the best of families and say no to the purchase of apps, video games and even gaming systems.

So, what can we do to substitute their love of gaming? Participate. Introduce ideas to encourage their already inherent, great imaginations.

For holidays, rather than buying video games or “enabling” my son’s growing addiction, I give the gift of an experience. What does this look like? A gift basket that includes the parts and pieces to complete the concept, such as “Science Project Fun” with a bucket that included Mentos, rubber bands, protective eye-wear (purchased from the dollar store), baking soda, balloons and a “how-to” guide on age-appropriate science fun. This ended in teaching my son that “for every action there is a reaction” as we launched marshmallows off the deck from our homemade sling-shot.

Other gifts have included PVC pipe, spray paint, a bag of marshmallows with instructions on how to make a marshmallow gun. The gifts have ranged from $200 (gift basket of snow gear that included snowboarding lessons) to $5 (a bag of old sheets, clothes pins and white Christmas lights for a fort-making kit).

Not only do I give the gift of an experience to my man in training, I give it to friends and families for their birthdays. As parents, we should work as a unit to encourage every child around us to use their imagination and to think outside of the “X” box.

MaLane and her son, Teaguen.