as most of you know, i run a small home daycare. i never have more than 6 children enrolled and i feed those little ones delicious, organic + local homemade meals. carnitas made with local + organic llano seco pork, vegetable lasagna made with lots of fresh veggies and a homemade butter + onion tomato sauce. turkey kielbasa + white bean cassoulet.
of course, on those days that i am lacking inspiration in the kitchen i may feed them grilled cheese or boxed mac + cheese, but it is always organic mac made with organic milk and the bread for the grilled cheese is always whole wheat. i also always accompany lunch with an organic veggie and/or fruit. i try to feed them what is in season and available at the local farmers market so we have been eating lots of kale, broccolini, mandarins, apples and kiwis.
i encourage the children to eat with their cute little bamboo utensils, but fingers work just fine, too. i dont mind the children getting messy when they eat since they are still perfecting those fine motor skills and darn it, sometimes its hard to spear the food and get it to stay on the fork! children are washable.
which brings me to the real subject of this post- allowing children to fully experience outdoor play and (gasp!) get dirty.
5 benefits of letting your child play in the dirt and get dirty here via simple mom
as a child development minor and person with experience working with children as a nanny and in various preschool settings i have strong opinions about this. i believe that children should not need to alter their play in order to “stay clean”. play is about growth + fun + development + imagination and getting dirty is part of the experience. once you start telling your child not to get dirty while they play, you are altering their play and interfering with their imagination. they cant play the same way when they are so busy being concerned with not getting dirty. which means they cant fully use their imaginations.
children are 100% washable, as are their clothes.
when parents interview here and check out my program i always make a point of telling them this…
” you need to be aware that your child will get very dirty here. i encourage them to stomp and dig in the mud, paint with lots of paint (even if that means they want to paint their arms + legs) and to use all of their senses when they play. send them to my house in their grubbiest clothes and rainboots because it is likely that they are going to get dirty, dirty, dirty! ”
and here’s what i love- when parents show up to pick up their child and see a heap of painty, wet, muddy clothes sitting by the front door and they say this, “wow! it looks like you had so much fun today!”
there it is, people. children are meant to get dirty while they play.
childrens play = dirty + messy kiddos.
childhood is very short and a child’s work is to play, so please let them really throw themselves into their work!
i set up a mud pie kitchen today for the children, fabulously messy outside multi-sensory experiences will be had in this new outdoor fixture. i can feel it! a mud pie kitchen is a great way to set aside a little nook of your yard just for your child and a place where they are allowed to squish the mud between their chubby little fingers and just get messy. and since summer will be here before you know it, now is a good time to set up one of those little mud pie kitchens. your child will have a safe space where he or she can get really dirty and then you can let him run through the sprinklers naked to wash himself off.
it could definitely be cuter…i’m on a mission to find some tree stumps that they can use for work surfaces and for seating, a durable and washable outdoor rug to define the space and maybe some waterproof kitchen-y signs for the fence. but the children LOVED it and im so excited to see all the fun they will have in our new little play space.
more great mud pie kitchens and progressive preschool age blogs here…