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The Science of Sensory Play

The Science of sensory play and your child.

 

As parents, we often hear about the importance of sensory play for our young children. But what exactly is sensory play, and how does it benefit our little ones? Sensory play involves activities that engage a child’s senses – sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell. These activities are not only fun but crucial for development. Here are ten points to help you understand the science behind sensory play and practical tips to incorporate it into your child’s routine.

 

Understanding Sensory Play

Sensory play involves activities that stimulate your child’s senses, helping to build nerve connections in the brain’s pathways, which support cognitive growth, language development, motor skills, and problem-solving abilities.

 

The Power of Touch

Activities like playing with playdough, sand, or water are fantastic for developing the sense of touch. They help children explore different textures, temperatures, and consistencies, which can enhance their tactile processing skills.

 

Visual Exploration

Use colourful toys, books, and light tables to engage your child’s sense of sight. This can help with visual tracking, differentiation of colours, and even early literacy skills. Try activities like sorting coloured objects or playing with shadow puppets.

 

Listening

Incorporate sounds into playtime with musical instruments, nature sounds, or simple household items. Listening to various sounds can improve auditory discrimination and attention. Singing songs and playing musical games are also great ways to engage the auditory sense.

 

Smelling Adventures

Create scent jars with items like herbs, spices, flowers, or citrus peels. Smelling different scents can stimulate the olfactory system and enhance memory and emotional responses. Discuss the smells with your child to build their vocabulary and sensory awareness.


Tasting Safely

Allow your child to explore different tastes through safe, supervised activities. Offer a variety of healthy snacks with different flavours and textures. This not only supports sensory development but also encourages healthy eating habits and reduces picky eating.


Combining Senses for Greater Impact

Sensory activities that combine multiple senses can be especially beneficial. For example, baking cookies engages touch (kneading dough), smell (baking aromas), sight (watching the process), and taste (eating the cookies). These multi-sensory experiences help in more integrated brain development.

 

Messy Play is OK

Don’t be afraid of a little mess. Activities like finger painting or mud play are excellent for tactile stimulation. Set up a designated play area where it’s okay to get messy. This freedom allows children to explore without restrictions, fostering creativity and independence. This is where childcare is beneficial because you don’t have to clen up!

 

Calming Sensory Activities

Some sensory activities can help calm and focus your child. Consider activities like playing with kinetic sand, using a weighted blanket, or engaging in deep pressure activities. These can be especially helpful for children who experience sensory processing issues.

 

Everyday Sensory Play

Sensory play doesn’t need to be elaborate or require special toys. Everyday activities like cooking, gardening, or even bath time can provide rich sensory experiences. Encourage your child to be involved in these daily tasks and turn them into playful learning moments.

 

By integrating sensory play into your child’s daily routine, you’re not only helping them develop essential skills but also creating fun and engaging ways for them to explore and learn about the world around them. So, embrace the mess, get creative, and watch your child thrive!

 

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