Creativity and imagination just as important as numeracy and literacy for kids, say UK parents

For young people facing up to the prospect of going back to school in a few weeks, the good news is that their parents think creativity, imagination and outdoor play is just as important developmentally as more traditional literacy and numeracy skills.  A new study by Microsoft Surface found eighty four percent of parents in the UK believe that creativity and imagination is as important for a child’s development as education and its core subjects, whilst eighty nine percent believe that out of school activities are as beneficial as a day at school,

Forty percent of mums saw out of school activities as educational and beneficial, compared to twenty six percent of dads. A day at a museum or gallery (38%), a day of outdoor play (35%), a cultural holiday (33%), an adventure holiday (31%), a day at the zoo or farm (30%) and a day exploring a new area (27%) were popular options for out of school activities that had real benefits. The study, which looked at the views of over 2,000 British parents of school age children (aged 5-16), found that eighty percent of children now go online for help with real world play, such as looking up animals or insects seen outside (31%), looking up nearby activities (28%) and researching countries they will be visiting (27%).

“In my opinion, creativity and imagination are some of the most fundamental aspects of childhood, as it translates into almost every area of our later lives, and allows us to explore who we are”, says Cath Prisk an Education and Outdoor Play expert who partnered with Microsoft for the research. “The fact that parents are increasingly recognising this is very encouraging. We want people to understand that playing and creating – whether that’s something as simple as drawing, climbing a tree, or researching the world – it’s equally as important as what you learn in the classroom.”

Parents today consider their children to be the most creative people in the family (32%) and are just as likely to be proud of their kids for creative achievements as they are for physical or more traditional classroom successes.  The study found that parents are more likely to be proud of their child for ‘writing an imaginative story’ (52%) than they are for ‘solving a complex maths equation’ (47%) or ‘winning a sports prize’ (44%).

This represents an interesting generational shift in attitudes in that today’s parents say when they were children they were far more likely to be praised for doing well at English (34%) or maths (31%) than creating a piece of art (17%) or writing a poem (14%).

When asked what they want their children to do when they grow up, overwhelmingly parents simply want their children to be happy, and do not mind what they do for a living. However, parents chose IT as the number one career choice for their children (21%), followed by medicine (17%), teaching (13%) and law (13%).

“As a technology company, we are delighted to see the increased recognition the subject is getting from parents when it comes to preparing their children for the future” said Gilly Binks, Surface Category Lead at Microsoft UK. “Technology and outdoor play should never be mutually exclusive – it’s all about enabling people to search and discover real world activities. That’s why, to mark the launch of Surface Go, we’re bringing fun to families across the country with the release of limited edition kits from the UK’s top creative artists such as Paperboyo to get the kids’ imaginations flowing and keep them busy and engaged throughout summer”.

The study was commissioned to coincide with the latest addition to the Surface family; the Surface Go, which is available to buy from 23rd August. Surface Go creative kits by Paperboyo and WillKay can be downloaded here.