Encouraging Messy Play

Encouraging Messy Play - Playgarden Online
BY Miss Charlotte September 21, 2022 Preschool Activities, Sensory Development, Toys & Play

Finding Creativity, Learning and Fun in Mess!

There’s no doubt about it-being a child is messy business! As parents, it’s easy to get upset or frustrated by your little one coming home looking a bit disheveled, or even by creating a bit of chaos at home with their online preschool learning. However, it can honestly feel a bit damaging to be told as a child “don’t get messy”!. Many of us have likely remembered parents, teachers or relatives who made being clean appear more important than expressing ourselves and learning more about the world around us; chances are, your little one will feel the same.

What’s more, there can actually be a lot of benefits to messy play! Even after numerous stains, paint clean-ups and more, it’s so important to know that your little one is exploring and–most importantly–learning through play! 

Just as babies learn through putting things in their mouth to explore the world around them, children learn through hands-on experiences.  Messy play doesn’t have to be a negative thing—alter your expectations and organize the learning space to allow for controlled messy play. Set firm boundaries beforehand and preview them with your child.

For parents with a limited amount of space or no outdoor settings in which mess can fly free, it may be challenging to encourage this. The online preschool environment blends school and home, which can make it difficult to determine how to encourage this learning while making sure the rest of the house can function as needed! However, it is actually quite simple to set up a space that will ensure your little one can explore as needed while being able to keep the rest of the home as it was. If you’ve set up a learning corner for your little one, you’re already a step ahead! If not, try and determine a space in your house or apartment that can be solely your little one’s; this is also something that can help them distinguish a sort of work-home boundary if they are a participant of an online homeschool program! As you set up the learning space, you can add things that you know will protect your home’s status quo; for example, if your little one is a regular Picasso, you can set up supplies like painting tarp, washable paint (and lots of Magic Erasers!). When they ask to paint, you can sit with them—not stand over them, warning them to “stay clean, don’t get messy.” It’s a front row seat to watching your child create art, and you can listen as they tell you about their artwork.  It allows your little one to be verbally creative in storytelling as well as art, building those language skills!

With the addition of online preschool platforms, there’s an even finer line between allowing your child to have creative freedom and also setting boundaries when it comes to messy home play. Something we suggest that will help you set boundaries appropriately is previewing (see our previous blog on previewing) what is “allowed.”  Now this is something you and your family need to agree on—what works for one parent might not for you and that’s okay!  The boundaries you set around painting indoors have to be something you feel comfortable with. For example, if you know that when they paint, your little one will inevitably end up with paint on their hands, arms, or even their whole body, you can sit with how you feel about it. If you are all right with that, you can create a process for cleaning up in a way that doesn’t feel totally negative, such as having your little one go straight to the shower when done.  However, you can also help your child learn that if the paint becomes airborne or if it becomes a safety issue, then they will stop. It can be a good idea to give one warning and caution them to be mindful of their surroundings when painting!

Try Our Online Preschool for FREE! Playgarden Prep offers numerous educational videos from real teachers, and numerous DIY projects that support early learning and development


School Readiness: What Really Matters? - Playgarden Online

School Readiness: What Really Matters?

How Does Community Support Contribute to Education? - Playgarden Online

How Does Community Support Contribute to Education?

Potty Training Tips from Miss Beth - Playgarden Online

Potty Training Tips from Miss Beth

5 Homeschool Activities for Toddlers - Playgarden Online

5 Homeschool Activities for Toddlers

Time-Out vs. Time-In - Playgarden Online

Time-Out vs. Time-In

3 Ways to Ensure Toddlers Are Getting the Nutrients They Need - Playgarden Online

3 Ways to Ensure Toddlers Are Getting the Nutrients They Need

Miss Charlotte Pencil

Hi, I'm Miss Charlotte!

Miss Charlotte is an Education Director by trade, and a mom by heart. All 200+ of our DIY projects were created by Miss Charlotte, with the help of her expert DIY assistant—Her 4 year old daughter! With a MST degree in Early Childhood Education and 15 years of teaching experience, her blogs and DIY projects have been an incredible resource for our Playgarden Prep schools. We hope that your family loves them as much as we do!

Back to Top