Get Messy, Get Creative

From encouraging creativity in children to child-proofing your home, read this helpful Q&A for insights on promoting healthy and safe play around the house.

Should children be afraid to get messy?

Children should not be afraid to get messy at all and for the most part, children aren’t neat. They leave a path of destruction wherever they go. And contrary to what some people believe, bacteria and germs, associated with mess and dirt, are actually good for us. Without exposure to these, children don’t build up immunity to the world around them. But messy doesn’t have to be playing outside in the mud, it can be as simple as helping with baking or cooking.

How can we encourage our children to be more creative and messy?

As we all know children want to be like their parents, this even comes down to being creative. One of the best ways that children can really be encouraged to get stuck in is if they see their parents getting stuck in, too. By doing it ourselves we are leading by example. Also, making it a fun and interactive activity goes a long way with children as the main way that children learn is through their five senses: touch, taste, smell, sight and sound. They depend upon their senses from a very early age. Showing interest in their work is also a great encouragement for a child, no matter the outcome of the work.

How important are creative activities in the cognitive development of children?

Creative activities are highly important as children get to experience the different textures, smells and sights as well as experiment with their environment. This will aid them in understanding the big wide world around them. Being so hands-on and physical by using hands to paint or holding a mixing spoon while baking will aid their motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Carrying out creative activities like painting can be very rewarding for children, more so than you think. Painting different shapes and words in different colours can help them learn, mixing colours or asking them to paint basic objects is great for their observational skills.

With the age of the internet and abundance of electronic devices, are children spending too much time in front of a screen?

It is said that children do spend far too much time in front of screens, whether it be TVs, phones, tablets, computers or video games. The uprising of technology has dominated the lives of children today and there is a big impact that technological advances have in making life easier for everyone. There are advantages to having the access to a world of knowledge at their fingertips, videos on how to build things or what is going on in the world can be very beneficial to a child. But there are also disadvantages, as if they are sat in front of a screen for the most part of their free time then they aren’t burning energy being active. And as we all know, being active is good for our health.

Is there enough emphasis placed on creative subjects at school?

This has come up a lot in the news recently, with many articles suggesting that creative subjects are being pushed out of schools and that funding for such subjects has been cut. One thing is that the spectrum of creative subjects in schools has grown extensively in the past 10 years or so. Whereas before there were basic offerings such as food tech, art and woodwork, there are now photography, dance, textiles and graphic design classes that are more available to children in schools. The ‘soft skills’ learned in these classes are sought-after in later life by employers. Innovation is a key driver in our economy and it is learned through creative processes.

How can parents ‘child-proof’ their homes?

There are many ways that a home can be child-proofed. First of all, it is very important that cleaning products are stored out of reach of children. In many homes, most of the cleaning supplies are stored under the kitchen sink, which is in very easy reach for children. With anything that may cause harm to a child, including cleaning chemicals, it is vital that they are kept high up and out of sight.

How important is it for parents to regularly clean the house?

Cleaning the house is very important, and regular cleaning of it will help prevent the build-up of harmful bacteria that may be lurking around. It’s also important to add that cleaning isn’t just for parents; it can be a fun and active job for children to assist with too. Give them a cloth dampened with water or a duster, let them watch and join in!

What sort of infections can children pick up if the house is not properly cleaned?

It is very easy for germs to spread around the house; they can go from person to person or come from dirty surfaces and equipment. Patches of mould growth in the house on damp walls and ceilings can be really bad for adult health, let alone children’s. If it goes untreated, it can lead to nausea and headaches. And, as we all know, there are lots of food-borne illnesses, like E.coli and salmonella to name a few, that can come from raw meat, unwashed veg and plenty of other foods.

Which areas of the house require more attention than others? And why?

As said previously, there are a lot of food-borne illnesses, so it is especially important that the kitchen and other food preparation areas get a lot of attention. Another room in the house that requires more effort is the bathroom, as it is probably the most humid place in the home. All of the moisture can encourage the growth of mould and mildew.

Floors are one the places that people don’t usually think of as one of the most frequent places to clean. Whether that be carpet, tiling or wooden. It is where your children play and where your babies crawl but also where we tread in dirt from outdoors.

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