If adults understood more about just how much children benefit from playing in mud, they may treat it with more respect and enthusiasm!
Yes, mud is messy but that’s exactly the point. Getting down and dirty and squishing around in nature’s very own play-dough is far more beneficial than many people realise.
Scientists and educators all agree that messing around in mud can play an important role in a child’s learning, development, health and wellbeing – and in a technological world that’s beset with challenging influences like screens and social media, opportunities to get back to basics in nature should be welcomed and encouraged.
There’s plenty of research which proves that contact with a certain amount of bacteria is good for us. We live in an increasingly sanitised germophobic world, yet our children need exposure to some bacteria to help stimulate their immune systems and prevent allergies. The answer? Mud play.
When children play in the dirt, they come into contact with bacteria called Mycobacterium Vaccae which not only boosts their immune systems but also increases the level of an endorphin called serotonin in their brains, making them feel calmer, more relaxed and happier. Mud wrap anyone?
Cognitive function also improves with the release of serotonin, so when children are playing together making mud art, mixing mud meals or constructing mud buildings, they’re not only having a joyful time, they’re actively learning too. There are opportunities for social, emotional, physical and cognitive development and even if it looks like children are simply squishing around in the dirt, they’re actually developing essential skills like problem-solving, negotiation, communication, fine and gross motor co-ordination and self-confidence.
So, in addition to creating some magical memories, here are the benefits of mud play in a nutshell:
Some of the more forward-thinking early learning centres like Nido Early School in Perth have embraced mud play as an essential teaching tool, seeing it as an important opportunity for children to connect with nature and to learn and grow.
International Mud Day (yes, mud even has its very own day of recognition) was a highlight on the school calendar recently, with educators at these premium early learning centres using the global celebration as further inspiration for free-range outdoor nature mornings where children and adults happily played and learnt together in the dirt.
Mud provides a fantastic hands-on (or should that be hands-in?) sensory experience with endless opportunities for discovery and exploration, and best of all, it costs nothing. Just add water to some sand or soil and you have one of the very best healthy environments for young ones to learn, grow and develop.
Guest Blog post by: https://nidoearlyschool.com.au/
Renae is the founder & CEO of SK who has been working with families for decades. Her educational background in Early Childhood teaching as well as Social Science and Community services has given her a broad base to her approach which focuses on balancing the informative but never at the expense of providing an entertaining read.
From working in the private setting, not for profit, as well as government agencies and at times combining her love of travel and work on a global scale, she is also a mum who has experienced the poo blowouts, the shopping tantrums and the sleepless nights.