Today is the day, that people in the know, celebrate as "International Mud Day!" In honour of this glorious day, we have compiled a list of reasons why playing in mud is so fantastic and it deserves it's own day of celebration. We know that in Hong Kong, you are hard pressed to find areas of mud, to play in. We don't condone playing in dirty ditch water in Wan Chai!
1. Happier: Recent studies have revealed that dirt contains microsopic bacteria called Mycobacterium vaccae which increases the levels of seratonin in our brains, helping to relax, soothe and calm, and combating childhood anxiety and depression. Hong Kong tip: before any kindergarten/primary interview; let your child get really muddy and super relaxed! Of course clean them up after and before the interview.
2. Connected: Playing in the mud connects you with nature. If you never know something, it’s hard to care about it. Getting kids outside to play (as a place to act out make believe worlds and explore) creates happy memories with the one most primal element in our world: nature. Hong Kong tip: we have so many country parks available to run too, and connect with nature in. Get out there!
3. Healthier: Research has shown that playing in the dirt - including very wet dirt - is good for a child's immune system. Hong Kong tip: It's so easy to catch any bug in HK, as a child. Give them a fair chance at weathering the flu seasons by building their immunity through nature.
4. Smarter: The same release of serotonin that occurs when playing in Mycobacterium vaccae dirt has also been shown to improve cognitive function. Hong Kong tip: Get ahead of the competition, by ditching the flashcards and numerous phonics courses, and just get muddy!
5. Develop: Sensory, hands-on play feeds children's brains. Sensory play is integral to a healthy development of learning and growth in a child, especially in the foundation years. Hong Kong tip: Pause the system for a moment, and let your child immerse themselves in sensory play, you will see the difference!
6. Social: Having an area outdoors set aside for mud play - a mud patch or a mud pie kitchen for example - provides a space for children to retreat to for some time alone in a soothing sensory experience or to play with peers co-operating, communicating, negotiating and sharing. Hong Kong tip: Almost impossible if you are living in Hong Kong, but possible if you seek out a play based playgroup/kindergarten.
7. Creative: Mud is a wonderful art medium, it can be moulded and decorated and it responds differently than sand, clay or play dough. Hong Kong tip: Find it where you can, but when you can't, the others will do too.
8. Welcoming: Mud is an open ended material that meets the different needs and interests of different children. A younger child might be right into the sensory experience while older preschoolers are busy making their own mud bricks. With mud, there is something for everyone. Hong Kong tip: Mixed age group play is brilliant, so look for a program that allows it.
9. Right brain: Playing in the mud encourages creative thinking. Playing with open-ended materials like mud stimulate creativity and imagination - things that are hard to jump start later in life. Hong Kong tip: We need more right brained activities in our foundation phase education, get into it!!
10. Fun: As a parent you may need convincing with hard evidence, as to why you should let your little darling lavish themselves in oodles of squishy mud. However a child instinctively knows just how glorious it can be, to create a limitless world of possibility with mud. Hong Kong tip: So let go and let them jump in, you both will reap the benefits of mud play.