AO Life is Messy

There’s no doubt about it. Raising a child is hard work and can be particularly demanding of your time, energy and resources. The mess that children make, however, can be especially difficult to endure, so it’s no surprise that as many as 41% of parents have discouraged messy play in a bid to avoid adding to the volume of housework. But did you know that making a mess is actually vital for a child’s development? That’s why we’re supporting AO’s Life is Messy campaign, designed to help parents and carers with their child’s development. 

Messy play is a sensory learning experience

‘Messy play’ - a learning mechanism whereby children are encouraged to get stuck in to exploring the world through various different textures (such as sifting through a sandpit with their hands, mushing mud through their palms or squelching goo between their fingers) - is essential for their social, emotional and cognitive development. 

Messy play teaches vital skills

Messy play is far more beneficial than you might initially think. Messy play helps to:

• engage and develop your child’s key senses (such as sight, touch, taste and so on) • teach vital communication skills (including sharing, personal space, negotiation, conflict resolution and boundaries) • aid speech therapy • refine your child’s fine and gross motor skills.

That’s why it’s important that children are allowed to take part in messy play activities, such as the ones recommended by AO’s Month of Mess collection. 

Messy play is possible, whatever your circumstances

Of course, it’s far easier to get on board with the idea of messy play if you have a large garden for your child to run wild in, complete with a well-stocked supply of water, mud and worms. 

However, if your outdoor space is too limited for even a splash around in a paddling pool, why not try your hand at some indoor messy play? Cover the dining table with a protective sheet before cracking open the finger paints, or simply have some quality family time in the kitchen by baking a tray of jam tarts: very young children enjoy sifting flour, rubbing butter, rolling pastry, squeezing sticky jam between their fingers and cutting shapes in leftover scraps of dough. 


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