It is a question that many parents have asked themselves:”Why does my kid love playing with dirt?” 1 plain and simple answer may be: kids love the way dirt feels and smells. Another down to earth answer could be: kids play with dirt because as an element very close to the composition of their very own bodies, they are automatically drawn to it.
Of course, one understandable concern when children play with grime is health. However, studies reveal that children that play with dirt are not at higher risk of developing diseases, in comparison to those who don’t. Furthermore, it seems that children that play with dirt develop stronger immune systems and resistance to viruses and bacteria. An article released by the Wildlife Federation entitled, The Dirt on Dirt, explains that germs and dirt are in fact good for children:”… all those things which make mothers reach for hand sanitizer and laundry detergent–may, in fact, be a grubby little prescription for health and happiness.” Of course we would not leave our children play with dirt in a doggy park, or in any other location that would pose a threat to the health of children via contaminated animal feces, toxic wastes, or some other pollutants. Yet, if we have access to a backyard or if there is a well-maintained park in our area, than allowing children to play with dirt is perfectly fine.
Playing with dirt is very therapeutic, kin to the act of gardening. In actuality, teaching gardening to young children can be a excellent way to take their explorations with dirt into another level. Both, boys and girls equally enjoy playing with dirt. We may have seen how much fun boys have picking up dirt and dumping it as they roam through dirt with bulldozers and dump trucks, or girls having a ball as they pretend-play to be mommies; cooking everything from mud pies, to cookie mush. This kind of play isn’t only innocuous, but it lends itself to mutual socialization as children cooperate with peers in a non-competitive atmosphere.
There are infinite possibilities when kids play with dirt. Playing in open character, can have an impact in the intellectual orientation of children, even opening the doors to future academic pursuits. Children’s present interest in the products of the earth can literally spill into interests in the fields of biology, ecology and conservation. A research study on environmental education shows how beneficial it is for children to learn about their world hands. In her abstract, Joanne Glenn (Glenn, J 2000) explains that kids learn science by doing science. The results of her studies also reveal that children improve across several academic areas when educated in an environment-based classroom. Improvements were registered in reading and mathematics scores, science and social studies.
The Journey Back to Nature
It might not be simple to encourage kids who have been exposed to nature to get dirty. Children nowadays are so connected to technology, that playing in the dirt may seem like a foreign concept to many of them, especially those living in metropolitan areas. He is truly nostalgic of times past when kids freely played in character, and parents really encouraged it. He believes children should be reconnected to nature, but feels that somehow society is conditioning our children to be fearful of it. He proposes using the principle of green urbanism, and weaving character into classrooms to promote what he calls: A No Child Left Indoors movement.
Remembering it is only in the last three or four decades that we’ve turned our backs on mother nature as a source for privacy and enjoyment, can help us recover our dull senses. We have to awaken to the proven truth that children need to play, roam through, and research character if they are to grow up to be caring people that are interested in the well-being of the planet and its resources.