Problem-solving as adults relates to the imaginings of our childhood. Imagination is not typically highlighted as part of the executive function skills, yet we know that the ability to examine various outcomes and possibilities is essential to creating the lives we want as adults. Make-believe or imaginative play requires a considerable amount of intellectual flexibility in the child, and flexibility is a key ingredient in both planning and creative problem-solving.
Theoretically, one term for this is decentration. Decentration explains the link between fantasy play and divergent thinking (Rubin, Fein, & Vandenberg, 1983). Decentration involves the ability to attend simultaneously to many features of one's environment, to transform objects and situations while at the same time understanding their original identities and states, to imagine at the same time things as they are and also as they were. For example, the child engaged in make-believe knows that the object he is sitting in is a cardboard box, but he pretends it is a car; in a sense, it is both a box and a car at once, and perhaps it was a submarine ten minutes earlier. Make-believe play, therefore, provides evidence of a considerable amount of intellectual flexibility in the child, and flexibility is a key ingredient in the creative process.
At PS1, imagination is recognized as an important aspect of children’s development as a way for them to express themselves and follow their unique interests. Classrooms and indoor/outdoor play spaces are intentionally organized with innovative materials to support joy in discovery and engage each learner. From the ground up, PS1 encourages this exploration and imagination.