Playing In The Dirt Could Make Kids Smarter

That’s right! Put away the baby wipes and hand sanitiser! Eating dirt could actually make kids smarter.

Exposure To Bacteria Could Enhance Learning

Research published earlier this year
by shows the positive side of a soil-borne bacteria that is likely to be inhaled when children are playing outside. Researchers found that exposure to specific bacteria could enhance learning.

“Mycobacterium vaccae is a natural soil bacterium which people likely ingest or breathe in when they spend time in nature,” said Dorothy Matthews of The Sage Colleges in Troy, New York.

Previous studies exposing mice to these bacteria showed stimulated growth of some neurons in the brain, leading to increased levels of serotonin and decreased anxiety. Curious as to whether live mycobacterium vaccae could thus improve learning in mice, researchers discovered that it did.

Mice Navigated Maze Twice As Fast

“We found that mice that were fed live M. vaccae navigated the maze twice as fast and with less demonstrated anxiety behaviors as control mice,” Matthews explained. And continued, “It is interesting to speculate that creating learning environments in schools that include time in the outdoors where M. vaccae is present may decrease anxiety and improve the ability to learn new tasks.”

Take this as extra incentive to get children outside and exploring nature, which is important for so many reasons.

Let Them Eat Dirt!

It’s also possibly a relief to parents of young children, who know it’s almost impossible to stop children getting dirty, even if they wanted to.



janet T.
janet t8 years ago

play outside, get dirty, and read dusty books. The perfect childhood!!

Norma V.
Norma Villarreal8 years ago

Playing outside in the dirt seemed much safer decades ago. Depending on the location, condition of the environment, and sanitation, have fun and play, play, play....

Danuta W.
Danuta W8 years ago

Thanks for the information!

Past Member 8 years ago

to me...i really am not into dirt no thanks...i'm still waiting for nasa to develop a pill for daily nutritional needs....

Ann G.
Ann G8 years ago

I couldn't agree more, April. The only exception to being out in nature is reading, and even then you can go outside and read in a tree or in a hammock or just lay on the grass with your book. I do it quite frequently, and it's wonderfully theraputic.

April Gray
April Gray8 years ago

kids should definitely spend more time outdoors playing in the dirt instead of in front of the t.v., computer, xbox, whatever. only exception is books!!!

Jennifer Martin
Jennifer M8 years ago

So how is does this study prove anything? They used MICE, not humans. Obviously, these are completely different species. Animal testing should be OUTLAWED. It is absolutely pointless. They've cured cancer in mice many, many times, yet it doesn't do shit for humans. DUH, we are completely different! But I do strongly believe that exposing your kids to dirt and germs is beneficial. How else are we supposed to build immunity??

Julia K.
Julia K.8 years ago

I hope that I ate some dirt in my chilhood xd

Caro M.
Kristy M8 years ago

But getting your feet and hands in dirt, especially mud, is also the main cause of hookworms. Besides, my abusive father would force me to eat dirt. All it did was wear done my teeth and make me sick.

Anna G.
Anna G8 years ago