You’ve probably seen it on pinterest, youtube videos, or blogs- messy play is all the rage now! Messy play, or otherwise known as sensory play, provides young children a fun way to learn and develop!
What is messy play?
Messy play is essentially letting your child experience and experiment with different objects and raw materials (sand, water, paint, chalk, slime, clay, etc) without ANY restrictions. There is no exact wat of carrying out messy play, but that’s the entire point!
Messy play is letting your child interact with these raw materials without being constrained to a “right” way of playing, and basically letting your child’s imagination run rampant as well as stimulating their curiosity! The whole idea of messy play is to let your child explore all the different sensations and texture at their own pace.
I know what you are all thinking, seems like a total inconvenience. Not to mention, a pain to clean up! So why should we let our children engage in it?
- It improves their fine motor skills : Messy play promotes the usage of fine motor movements which are the muscles on your fingers, hands, and forearms. Young children especially would benefit from fine motor exercises because fine motor skills are not fully developed until your child turns 8 years old! So, by letting your child grab, squeeze, and squish all they want, you are allowed them to strengthen their muscles and develop said fine motor skills!
- It exercises communication/ language development : Why not kill two birds with one stone by also interacting with your child whilst messy play! While engaging with them throughout the process, you can also encourage them to describe what they are doing or what they are feeling. Your child will not only have fun, but they will also have a great opportunity to practice communication and comprehension!
- It improves their cognitive skills : They will be exposed to many different scenarios such as different textures, mixing of colours, maybe even dissolvement of things or different temperatures! By essentially experimenting with different mediums through the raw materials, your child will start to develop a basic level of understanding on how things work. For example, your child will have the opportunity to learn firsthand that a playdough can hold its shape in ball-form whereas dry sand will not.
- It improves their socio-emotional skills: Messy play can also be a great group activity! This way the kids can have an opportunity to interact with one another while giving them a chance to learn how to share and work together!
- It builds self-esteem: Since messy play gives your child the freedom to choose what they want to do with the raw materials at hand, it gives the child a sense of control. This freedom to choose and control helps build confidence and self-esteem in young kids!
It may take you a while to get used to the idea of letting your kids play freely and messily, but overall the benefits do outweigh the slight cost of having to bathe them and clean up after them! So, let loose and let your kids have fun!