Try to remember what you enjoyed doing as a four year old. Was it playing outside? Playing hide and go seek? Playing with water and mud? To be actively involved, kids need to get messy! According to the WI Council on Children and Families, 75% of children in our state are in some type of out of home care setting. When a young child comes home from child care or school with red paint in her hair, peanut butter on her favorite shirt, or sand in her shoes, she probably worked with a friend, solved a problem or created a masterpiece. She may also have learned a new skill, negotiated a difference or had a great time. She probably wasn’t bored, lonely or doing worksheets. According to developmental guidelines, preschoolers shouldn’t be expected to sit for long periods of time. They need to learn about how things grow by planting fruits and vegetables and helping to care for a garden. They need to understand cause and effect by pouring water into dirt to make mud and mud cakes. They need to experience a family style meal where they get to serve themselves; and know what it’s like to use tempera paint to create a pink dinosaur, a green person or a three-eyed purple dog. These experiences are how children learn best. Next time you send your child off to child care or school, help them choose clothes that can get dirty and messy. These kids are busy learning through play! Need more information on finding quality child care? Contact Childcaring, your local child care resource and referral agency: 1-800-628-8534 or www.childcaring.org
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