There are SO many amazing benefits of messy play but an obstacle in the messy play realm is often the willingness for children to simply be exactly that, messy!
Have you heard your child often say “wash hands” or “dirt!” with a concerned look on their face? Children have an innate curiosity for gooey, slimy, squishy things, so why is it that so many children are deterred from play with such textures…
The importance of modelling messy play!
When we model messy play in a way that makes it feel safe and inviting to our children, they are much more likely to take risks and embrace their natural curiosity to explore new textures, objects, and concepts using their grubby little hands. Our children trust us, they watch us, they want to be like us, so it only makes sense that they would feel more willing to explore once they have seen us enjoying and exploring it as well.
A simple reminder that can be helpful is:
Clothes and hands can always be washed!
If we are always reprimanding our children for being dirty or when we exclaim, “yuck!” or “don’t touch that!” we discourage them from entering into these highly valuable messy play experiences.
But when we, as their most trusted adult and guide, MODEL the messy play by diving into the mess ourselves, our children can feel safe and excited to try it out themselves.
Benefits of messy play:
- using all of their senses during play leads to conceptual connections
- helps to develop spatial awareness
- through pouring, scooping, and grasping children develop both fine motor and hand eye coordination skills
- helps them to overcome aversions to textures with foods
- leads to vocabulary development (when partnered with an inquiring adult, “does it feel scratchy or rough?”)
- it can be calming and settling
- outdoor messy play experiences connect children to nature and land based learnings
- creativity: it’s open ended and gives freedom for expression
- new sensory inputs (textures, smells etc) can help to overcome other sensory challenges
When we model messy play in a way that makes it feel safe and inviting to our children, they are much more likely to take risks and embrace their natural curiosity to explore new textures, objects, and concepts using their grubby little hands.