The Crown’s Angus Imrie is encouraging children in Oxfordshire explore, create and learn through free-play this summer, as new research has revealed the effect of lockdown on youngsters.

Research by Little Imagineers found parents said their children’s lack of social interaction and isolation during lockdown was by far their biggest concern.

In response to the findings, Little Imagineers have launched a creative competition for children over the summer which encourages them to explore.

Imrie, who is an ambassador for Little Imagineers and lives in Oxford, said: “This kind of learning is a journey of self-discovery. When you discover something for yourself it goes in so much more to who you are in your body and mind.  

“Creating environments where it is not structured and it is free play gives children the space to discover and go on journeys that they have not be told, or taught, and that they are just learning for themselves.

“That is where true creativity and inspiration lies.”

As the father of a three-year-old child himself, Imrie had to keep his child entertained throughout lockdown.

He said: “I think this will resonate with lots of parents that you can get bogged down in the household, so getting children out and about was the best fun thing.

“Getting outdoors was definitely the main thing and now things have opened up again its just wonderful to be able to take him to all the museums in Oxford. It is different adventures all the time.”

Imrie feels the best places to take children out in Oxford include Harcourt Arboretum and the Story Museum, which he says is ‘absolutely fantastic’ and ‘a dream come true’ for young children.

The Little Imagineers research surveyed 638 parents of two to eight year olds and found lockdown resulted in a rise in tantrums (36 per cent), lowered concentration (36 per cent) and too much screen time (43 per cent).

The survey also revealed that 47 per cent of parents disagreed their children participated less in drawing, arts and crafts, creative activities.

However, 41 per cent of parents agreed that they ‘ran out of ideas’ for play with their children.

Parents also said they discovered a range of activities they would not have otherwise encountered if it was not for lockdown. This included rediscovering nature as well as more alternative interests such as meditation.

On his involvement with Little Imagineers, Imrie said: “I think the work they are doing to try and engage children with outdoor play and not ‘schedule led’ activities is so essential at this stage we are all emerging from, after the year we have had.

“I think children in particular have had a rough ride of it and the reason for that is because so much of children’s development happens with other children.

“It is about learning each other’s boundaries, about testing things with each other and sometimes as adults we try and intervene with that but actually children are working things out themselves.

“That level of socialisation has such an important role.”

Competition details:

The competition is being run with Max Made Me and is for two to eight year olds. The children are asked to explore their garden, woods or park and create either a painting, collage or mask.

The prize, worth £1000, is a playroom makeover which includes the addition of the new Little Imagineers Padoo sofa, four rolls of the Max Made Me exotic terrazzo leaf wallpaper and two A3 prints of their choice.

The competition details can be found on the Max Made Me website.

Imrie added the competition is a ‘fantastic opportunity to play with your child and to really engage and see what they are interested in’.

Little Imagineers is a family-run business on a mission to help kids discover their instinct for play and who Imrie is an ambassador for.