Dirt that Doesn't Hurt
Submitted by Aakriti Gupta
Can you recall the aroma of the earth right after it has rained? I am sure you can and it has already calmed your senses. Or when you mommas apply that mud pack on your face, how you feel relaxed. The new researches show that our brain releases the hormones serotonin and endorphin when it is exposed to the Mycobacterium Vaccae (bacteria found in dirt) which helps soothe, calm and relax our mind. In other words it makes us feel happy. Now you know why we love sniffing that after rain aroma.
When we as adults enjoy the muddy smell, children are more inquisitive and drawn towards their instincts, therefore love playing in the mud or splashing the water in muddy puddles. These little explorations trigger their brains and imprint them with enormous essential skills like comparing, solving problems, making decisions, responding to the surroundings, releasing stress or improving hand eye coordination. It brings about a complete cognitive development in a child.
Why should mud play be encouraged in early years of learning?
- Connecting our roots with nature
In this concrete jungle, where more or less we have become couch potatoes, it is important to connect to the roots (the 5 tatvas we are made of) and let the children explore, pretend play and develop admiration for the nature in outdoor space.
- Boosting the immune system
Studies have shown that a child living in the natural environment outdoor environment (in contact with dirt) is less susceptible to falling ill in comparison to a child living in a totally hygienic and extremely clean environment. It has been detailed that messy play in the early years of development decreases the chances of heart diseases in the later years of life. It also lowers the rate of allergies and auto immune disorders.
- Unleashing the creative aspect
You must have heard of schools incorporating role plays and pottery classes in their curriculum. The reason behind it is to give wings to the imagination of the children. Mud being an open ended material provides our children of numerous ways to interpret, thus stirring social and emotional development. I have seen kids opening up, sharing their toys and exchanging creative ideas during the messy play.
- Enhancing learning
“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” – Confucius
I am sure all of you must have seen sand pits in pre- schools and schools. Have you ever wondered why?
The nature of hands-on activities is engaging the children with real object or through experiments. Believe it or not mud is more imprinting than flash cards. When a child touches wet mud or gravel it stimulates the sensory nerves in the brain and instill learning. Practicing alphabets and words on sand with the help of fingers help resolving learning disabilities as well.
- Creating Memories
We still have stories to tell to our children about playing in the open-ended nature, garden, splashing water on our siblings or making mud castles. Messy games help our children create happy memories and thus, keeping anxiety and depression at bay.
As parents, we do get protective of our children, wanting to know the reason behind every activity. But children will only work out of their instincts and sensory experience , even if it means that you have to wash a muddy face or a stained dress. Embrace their curiosity and let them run wild.
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Aakriti Gupta, a Gold Medalist in Journalism from Dayalbagh Educational Institute is a teacher by profession and a stay at home mom by choice and now pursuing Content Writing. She enjoys spirituality as much as she enjoys food. With a love for traveling she has been to mountains, beaches, plateaus and deserts. Staged Photos is one way in which she unleashes her creativity. She resides in NCR with her assistant professor husband and an innocently cute darling daughter.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this post are the personal views of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of The Mom Store