I have an old friend whose Facebook profile is peppered with photos of his children—running around barefoot, splashing in their backyard pond, covered with mud, and climbing up trees. They spend a lot of time outdoors wearing a layer of dirt. When I was a kid, I also spent most of my time covered with dirt. That’s what’s awesome about childhood, right?
Recent statistics point to children today spending approximately half as much time outdoors as those in the past. Of course, we can point to technology causing the shift, but I’m not here to blame technology. It has its place in our lives, for sure. I believe we need to balance technology with… more dirt. Why? Here are some good reasons.
- It’s healthy for children to be exposed to microorganisms in order to create natural antibodies. For good reason, we’re all a little obsessed with cleanliness right now, but there are definite benefits for kids who make mud pies.
- Children who are playing outdoors are developing motor skills. Jumping over tree roots and crawling through grass helps develop large muscles. And working large muscles helps children develop confidence, which affects social and academic skills. It’s all interconnected.
- Being in nature is relaxing. Do children need stress relief? Yes, and adults do too. Maybe we all should be making mud pies!