Should your grandchild play in the mud? Yes, of course they should, but today’s kids may not be getting that opportunity
Here’s a pic of my ever so sweet, delicate, and most always…very clean, granddaughter, Penelope (AKA Poppy). On a recent visit to see our daughter, SIL and the GRAND girls, Poppy and Juniper, I snapped this pic of Poppy as she was ecstatically playing in the mud. I thought to myself, how long had it been since I last saw a sight like this?
Today’s parents and grandparents seem to be such germophobes that it’s been quite a while since I witnessed the sheer joy of a grandchild playing in the mud. No fancy, expensive toys, electronics, devices needed…just good old fashioned Mother Earth providing endless play, entertainment, education and so much more.
As savvy moms and GRANDmoms know, playing in the mud is not just about the fun and wild abandon…it’s actually a good thing. Please enjoy this informative article.
By Jenny Kable
1. Playing in the mud can make you happier.
Scientists have discovered something that children have always known – playing in the mud can lift your mood. Recent studies have revealed that dirt contains microsopic bacteria called Mycobacterium vaccae which increases the levels of seratonin in our brains, helping to relax, soothe and calm.
2. Playing in the mud connects you with nature.
If you never know something, it’s hard to care about it. Many kids these days never know the outdoors beyond the school playground or their own backyards, if they even have one. Getting kids outside to play (as a place to act out make believe worlds and explore) creates happy memories with the one most primal element in our world: nature.
3. Playing in the mud can make you healthier.
Step away from the antibacterial hand wipes. Research has shown that playing in the dirt – including very wet dirt – is good for a child’s immune system.
Enjoying this article? Click here to get more like it in GRAND Magazine delivered right to your inbox.
“So let your child be a child. Dirt is good. If your child isn’t coming in dirty every day, they’re not doing their job. They’re not building their immunological army. So it’s terribly important.” – Mary Ruebush is the author of Why Dirt Is Good: 5 Ways to Make Germs Your Friends
4. Playing in the mud can make you smarter.
Throw away the flash cards and send your child outside to play instead. Studies have found that playing in the dirt can make you smarter. The same release of serotonin that occurs when playing in M. vaccae dirt has also been shown to improve cognitive function.
5. Playing in the mud helps children to learn and develop.
Sensory, hands-on play feeds children’s brains. Listing all the ways playing with mud – a delightfully sensory experience – can help children to learn and develop would be a whole post in itself. So I’m going to send you here for a thorough look at the value of sensory play.
6. Playing in the mud helps develop positive dispositions.
Having an area outdoors set aside for mud play – a mud patch or a mud pie kitchen for example – provides a space for children to retreat to for some time alone in a soothing sensory experience or to play with peers co-operating, communicating, negotiating and sharing.
7. Mud is a wonderful art medium.
Mud can be molded and decorated and it responds differently than sand, clay or playdough. For ideas hop on over to The Art of Mud from Artful Adventures.
8. Mud play welcomes all comers.
Mud is an open-ended material that meets the different needs and interests of different children. A younger child might be right into the sensory experience while older preschoolers are busy making their own mud bricks. With mud, there is something for everyone.
9. Playing in the mud encourages creative thinking.
Playing with open-ended materials like mud stimulate creativity and imagination – things that are hard to jump start later in life.
10. Childhood memories.
Think back to your own childhood. Do you have happy memories of playing outside in the mud and the dirt? After all, making mud pies is one of the iconic images of childhood. We are creating the experiences, the memories and the childhoods of today’s children. What do we want them to remember?
So how can we provide opportunities for kids to play in the mud?
Here are some ideas:
- 7 Tips for mud play at preschool
- Digging Patches
- Mud pie kitchens
- 5 tips to help parents embrace messy play
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Jenny Kable founder of Let the Children Play
About Me I’m Jenny, an early childhood teacher. For 15 years I’ve been teaching young children and in my spare time, I’ve even produced two of my own. In between making their school lunches and picking up their lego, I blog about my days at our small progressive preschool nestled in the beautiful Australian bush.
Mission Did you know that children are spending less time in unstructured play – especially outdoors and in natural settings – than at any other time in history?
Meanwhile, there is the pressure to formalize and structure early childhood programs, despite the fact that everything we know about how children learn and develop tells us that it is through PLAY.
Let the Children Play celebrates the importance of play in the lives and education of our children by sharing my own experiences in a play-based preschool and providing inspiration, tips, and information to help parents and teachers alike put the play back into childhood.
What will I find?
Hundreds of ideas for outdoor play and learning, all in one spot to make searching simple: