By Carly – Early Childhood Teacher, Alkira Early Learning Centre
Mud glorious mud! The benefits of mud and its ability to boost children’s immunity in the early years has been highly researched and further scientific evidence supports just how important mud play is for children’s cognitive development and overall wellbeing.
Research suggests that playing with mud, even though such an enjoyable experience in itself, can also stimulate children’s immune systems and help prevent allergies and even asthma, Yes, you hear right…it’s healthy for children to get MUDDY!
The research has also found links to children’s overall wellbeing from regular exposure to Mycobacterium Vaccae (A bacteria found in dirt) which may help reduce a child’s vulnerability to depression. When you dig much deeper into the research, the bacteria responsible for this also has the ability to increase the level of serotonin in the brain, releasing endorphins and improving cognitive development and mindfulness.
There is an emerging body of research that indicates mindfulness can help children improve their ability to pay attention, to calm when they are upset and to make better decisions. In short, it helps with emotional regulation and cognitive focus (Rudell Beach Jul 23, 2014). The use of sensory experiences like mud and clay in early childhood services also creates calm relaxing environments and mindful moments.
Alkira ELC has embraced this research and incorporates mud play in the children’s daily activities. Mud can be used in so many ways, one of our favourite being through art. The great thing about using mud through art is it gives children ample opportunity to make mistakes and learn through experimentation whilst smashing, stirring, measuring, moulding, baking and painting and then doing it all over again! Whilst immersed in this endless sensory experimentation, children are developing their fine and gross motor skills, they are hypothesising, problem solving, using creativity and imagination whilst gaining social skills as they learn to cooperate, negotiate and communicate with their peers.
While mud play can be just a fun experience where children love getting rather dirty, it also gives them the opportunity to be immersed in their natural environment, gain exposure to those beneficial bacteria and get away from the hi tech environment they are surrounded by. Who can say no to that!