Am I being a bad parent if I let my child eat snails?
But what about letting your children get soaked in the rain, covered in mud (or slime, or grass, or sand, or thistles, or paint) or tattooed with marker pens?
Toddlers explore with all their senses (including taste!) and they like to get messy doing so. It’s part of their natural learning process for discovering everything around them. Children who grab, feel and taste objects are constantly gathering information. And getting messy.
They can hear about rain from books, watch it fall and listen to the sound, but they can't really understand what rain feels like until they feel raindrops on their skin or they’re jumping in puddles of rainwater.
Getting messy is an essential part of children's early childhood development:
- Messy play provides hands-on learning experiences.
- Messy play gives children the freedom to be creative. If messy play is unrestricted (within reason), children have the freedom to express their thoughts, build creations they've been wanting to build, try new things. and experiment with different materials and textures.
- Messy play enhances children's sensory development. One important thing to remember is that messy play is also sensory play. Children get to feel clumps of dirt between their ﬁngers, feel paint dry on their skin, feel and smell ﬂowers, and take part in a variety of other sensory experiences.
- Messy play supports kinaesthetic/tactile learning. Kinaesthetic/tactile learners need to move their bodies and touch things to understand and focus on what they’re learning.
- Messy play often involves using and building ﬁne motor skills - by exploring things using pinching, pouring and lacing movements.
- Messy play is calming for children. It helps them learn to monitor and control their own feelings, emotions and behaviour.
From the first day they are born, children are designed to explore the world via their senses (that's why babies and toddlers touch everything and put it in their mouths). Messy exploration is a child's way of examining, discovering, categorising and making sense of the world.
There is lots of learning in getting messy - that’s why your children love it so much!