“Messy Play is at the very heart of natural child development…”
I founded Messy Monkeys waaaay back in 2010 when my son, now almost 15, was just a toddler. Messy Monkeys was inspired by his choice of play and how he saw the world as one long exploration session. Messy Play wasn’t even a thing 15 years ago as we nervously opened the doors to allow babies to play with all manner of sensory nonsense with abandon and we wondered if it was ok to allow children to play without structure or specified learning outcomes! But of course, it is, is absolutely is, children have played this way since time began… using the materials around them to learn how to grasp and grip, pour and tip, lift and carry… messy play is at the very heart of natural child development.
Messy Monkeys has expanded over the years to encompass Messy Science for older children, whose natural instincts to explore, discover and learn makes them gravitate towards hands on kinaesthetic experimentation… and this is the point… children learn what they need and want to learn! There’s a wonderful window of enthusiasm for learning when children are in primary school – obsessions can develop over dinosaurs, dragons, unicorns or frogs whilst children soak up all available knowledge into their developing brains. As you’ll be aware as an adult… this does wear off… and so we LOVE nurturing this enthusiasm with our child led Messy Science sessions which allow children to explore the myriad of questions that they have in their developing minds.
It’s our very strong opinion here at Messy Monkeys HQ that the education system in England doesn’t always understand this… and that’s nothing against our wonderful schools and amazing teachers… but the curriculum in primary, sneaking its way down into the early years, focuses overly on English and maths and pushes children towards things they aren’t ready for and so have no interesting in learning… yet! Give them time and a passion for writing may naturally develop, but forcing them to master the pencil grip too early could have a negative effect… a love of reading for pleasure can come at any age, but forcing a child to read every day before they are ready could put them off to joy of a book… numbers can be fun when they help us solve practical real world problems, but sitting in a classroom learning times tables by rote can make people start to hate maths. Children love learning. They really love learning. Just think of all the questions you’ve been asked today! But children love learning at their own pace and in their own way, making standardised education not a great idea! For this reason, Messy Monkeys heads up the Let Kids Be Kids campaign, working closely with a coalition called More Than A Score to lobby Westminster for a change to primary education and a return to play based learning for under 7s.
Messy Monkeys also works closely with the home education network. In England there are around 80,000 children off register, because parents recognise the difficulties associated with a one size fits all approach to education. We offer Messy Science classes to home educated children and have links to democratic education settings where children are encouraged to learn through play, creativity and movement.
So, when you bring your baby to a messy monkeys class it’s much more than just a giggle (and it absolutely IS a giggle seeing your little monkey covered from head to toe in flour or painting their tummy green…) Messy Monkeys stands for developmentally appropriate child led play, creativity in learning and allowing children to learn in the most natural way they can!
If you have any questions about why we do and why we do it let me know, I’m always happy to chat about keeping play at the heart of children’s activities firstname.lastname@example.org