A bit of dirt won’t hurt

by Colleen P Moyne (Colmo) (follow)
I'm a freelance writer living in the beautiful river town of Mannum in SA, dreaming of the day I can retire from the 9-5 to write full time.
Children's Health (52)      Healthy Parenting (27)      May Competition (10)     


Muddy Child
Image courtesy of Wikimedia commons


While some parents may balk at the idea of letting their children play outside in the dirt, the truth is that getting down and dirty in nature can actually be beneficial to a child’s development. According to a study conducted at Bristol University, not only does it help to build up their immune system by creating an early resistance to bacteria, but it also has a number of other health benefits.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia commons


Encouraging your child to get out into the fresh air and sunshine produces vitamin D and releases the chemicals serotonin and dopamine – also known as the happiness hormones. Kids who play outdoors are generally found to be happier and to have better concentration. Dirt play can also help to develop a child’s fine motor and tactile skills.

There is mounting evidence to show that kids who connect with nature regularly are more successful in life. and have better social skills and a well-developed imagination.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia commons


Kids who learn to garden at an early age develop a greater understanding of - and appreciation for - nature and the life cycle of plants. They can also find a greater enjoyment in eating fruits and vegetables that they have had a hand in growing.

Splashing in puddles and making mud pies is a great wintertime activity, whereas digging in sand and building sandcastles is fun in warmer weather (don't forget the sunscreen).

Having to wash dusty or muddy clothing is a small price to pay for the joy of seeing your children thrive and succeed.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia commons


Here are a few ways to encourage your child into outdoor play:

Have a variety of outdoor equipment on hand such as bats, balls, a wading pool, buckets and spades.
Designate a plot in the garden and let your children choose seeds or seedlings to care for.
Purchase some heavy-duty toy cars, dump-trucks and tractors that are tough enough for outdoor play.
Join them in exploring the yard with a bug-catcher and magnifying glass.
Install a sandpit (that can be covered when not in use, to deter neighbourhood cats).
Teach your child to ride a bike, pull a cart or push a toy wheelbarrow around the yard.
Allow them to experience the joy of pets – a dog, rabbit, even chickens or ducks all make wonderful outdoor pets and encourage interactive play.
Build them a simple cubby house or outdoor play-gym.
If you can, take your child camping, fishing or to wildlife parks on holiday.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia commons


Take joy in teaching your child by example to embrace the outdoors and enjoy what nature has to offer.

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