Imagine a world where your child’s creativity is valued as much as their aptitude for English, science or maths. That’s a world most parents would like: A recent study by Microsoft Surface shows that 84% of parents think that creativity and imagination are as important for a child’s development as literacy and numeracy.
Almost 90% believe that out-of-school activities are more beneficial for children than a day at school. At the launch of the new Surface Go device BritMums cofounder Jennifer Howze took part in a panel discussion on the importance of creativity for children and how parents can encourage it, whether kids are playing on their devices or tearing around outside. “Creativity is ultimately what drives problem solving,” says Will Jones, head of technology buying at John Lewis, who was one of the panelists at the event.
(This post is sponsored by Microsoft.)
The panel was led by Ben Fogle, the broadcaster and adventurer who knows a little something about imagination and creativity. Children came along with parents to flex their creativity playing on the Surface Go and the rest of the Surface family.
Along with the other panelists – outdoor play expert Cath Prisk of Outdoor People; Will Jones of John Lewis and Gillian Binks of Microsoft – as well as Parent Influencers, we talked about great ways to inspire creativity in your kids.
Set challenges for them.
What would they invent to survive on a desert island or what kind of video game would they like to create? By giving children an open possibility, you create a world that they will populate with their ideas.
Don’t solve the problem for them.
It can be tempting to help their ideas along. But it’s when children get “stuck” on a problem that they can do their most creative thinking. Instead of “fixing” it or providing a solution, ask pointed questions that will help them come up with fun answers on their own.
Let technology be part of the creative picture.
Using the internet and apps can be a great way for children to learn by playing. Technology makes it easier to research and access information for learning, schoolwork and play. The Microsoft Surface research shows that 80% of kids are using laptops and tablets to get ideas for outdoor play and adventure. Keep a list of rainy-day resources that will make their screen-time meaningful and educational. Check out the Surface creativity kits for inspiration.
Get them working and playing with others.
By working together on a project – whether its maths games on a tablet or den-building in the garden – children “scaffold” each other’s learning and creativity, building on each other’s ideas, says Cath Prisk. Get a group together and let them have at it.
Create a regular creativity space.
This might be an actual space in your home or garden or a regular part of the day or the week. It makes imagination and creativity a regular part of your child’s life where they can tap away, get messy, experiment and have fun with abandon.
Applaud their efforts.
It’s not as if Edison invented the lightbulb in one go or Van Gogh’s first painting was a sunflower success. It’s the trying, and often failing, that’s important.
Take creativity on the road.
It’s not just for after school or at home: Being creative is a frame of mind you can bring to family holidays, nature walks, outings, visits to granny and more. There are so many ways for children to be stimulated intellectually. Ask questions, talk about your observations and thoughts and listen to what they say.
Let them know that you don’t have all the answers.
On the panel, Ben Fogle talked about how – when he doesn’t know the answer to one of his children’s question, he secretly searches for it online. Yes, we’ve been there. It’s great to have all the answers, but it’s also empowering to turn it into a mutual experience by saying to them, “I don’t know, let’s look it up!”
Remember creativity isn’t just about drawing.
We often think of our children being creative when it comes to the arts, to music, to dance. But creative thinking reaches into every part of life, from science to writing and reading to maths and more. You can even have them get creative in daily chores such as helping with meals. By doing so, you could be raising the next Angela Hartnett or Heston Blumenthal.
Be ready to be surprised.
Children can often think more fluidly than we do as adults. Where we might focus on the end result or the how, they ask why and why not. Celebrate their ideas and creations, even if they don’t come out like you expected.
Visit www.surface.com to find out more about the new Microsoft Surface Go or you can find it in-store at John Lewis. It is the smallest, lightest Surface yet, perfect for creativity at home and on the go, and promises 9 hours of video playback and can be fully charged in 2 hours.
To find out more about the research and get inspiration from the Surface creative kits go to www.surface.com/goimagine.
What are your best tips for encouraging creativity in your children? Let us know below!
This is a sponsored post.