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That’s Too Messy

June 8, 2011

Every time I take PlumGirl to the children’s museum the words “that’s too messy” seem to echo around the building.  Kids are stopped from playing at the water table or in the art area because they will get messy.  I hear the same thing at the park and the Botanical Gardens, where there is a sandpit, dirt pit, and stick pile meant to be played with.  Even in ART CLASS, I hear moms saying that their kids can only use washable paint so that their clothes don’t get messed up.

I really don’t understand this mentality.  I dress PlumGirl every day with the expectation that she will get messy.  When I take her to the Children’s Museum I would rather she do a messy art project there than at home.  I am glad that the Botanical Gardens have such a wonderful children’s garden where she can dig in the dirt and play with their wonderful sticks and stumps.  I don’t worry that the water might be dirty or that it might get in her mouth.  I prefer her to run around barefoot than with her shoes on so that she can feel the grass, sand, and dirt between her toes.

Making a mess is a huge part of the wonderful freedom of childhood.  Kids learn through exploration and experimentation.  When you limit the mess, you limit their learning, not to mention fun.

Edited to add… Moving Smart has a great post explaining the types of benefits of messy play here.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. amy permalink
    June 9, 2011 7:08 pm

    Periodically we get emails from school reminding us that the next day is a garden day, for instance, so please have the kids wear something that can get dirty, and I always think, EVERYTHING can get dirty. Whatever! There are a few items I’ll suggest my daughter not wear to paint, like one of her handknit sweaters, but that’s about it. Go forth and get dirty. When I pick my sons up from school and they’re filthy, I assume they had a good day. 😉

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