Children love mess, they love creating it, playing in it, getting covered in it and generally getting involved at every level they possibly can.
Children learn by being engaged with the things they are exposed to, in a whole-body approach. A perfect example of this for this time of year- puddles! Children are like magnets for them, the depth, size and shape of a puddle is not relevant to your child- they need that puddle! Regardless of saying no, you should understand their need for the puddle is as strong as your need for chocolate, or cake, it just won’t wait!
The same can be said for flour, paint, sand, beans or anything that can ooze, squish, squash, be sprinkled or walked in- nothing is off limits!
The play drive is what absorbs and steers your child towards it- making it so desirable. However, the learning that comes from these opportunities are endless.
Your child develops fine motor skills to help prepare them for pre-writing, gross motor skills to help them learn coordination, both hand-eye and full body. These kind of activities also encourage children to learn when things do not go to plan, such as water in their eyes, flour on their hands and beans between toes; so things like tolerance, patience and confidence whilst they try and come up with ways to deal with their intolerable situation (however temporary). Even children that do not like getting messy are more inclined to try if they see an adult having fun. Furthermore, if you allow yourself to become the subject for mess to get placed on- children will happily decorate you and forget they are actively getting mucky, because their attention is focused on you.
We need to give our children opportunity to freely explore new things, let them become absorbed in their activities and encourage them when they are not entirely sure. We need to strive to enable children to become confident in their ability and to be excitable when new adventures can be found.
As adults, our play is completely different to childrens (unfortunately, we grew up and out of understanding), never interfere when children are playing- this is their magical moment and as much as we believe we won’t- we could ruin their whole game.
My book offers opportunities to explore these benefits- for parents, home educators, foster carers as well as a separate book for those that work in early years. Children have a childhood for play, yet, unless the benefits of play are recognised then it will always become used for a greater purpose.
Play is learning for your child, at their own pace and developing as they grow, play is fundamentally more important than teaching when it comes to under-fives.
This introduction to messy play hopes to encourage you to explore what Playwork Inspired Learning can offer you and your child.