From the day they are born, children use their senses to explore the world around them. They do this by touching, seeing, moving, hearing, smelling and tasting. This is why little ones touch everything and put it in their mouth. This is also why kids run and jump, fall down and then get up and do it all over again.
It is important for children to use their senses actively as they make discoveries in their environment. Sensory play is crucial to brain development—it helps to connect nerves in the brain’s pathways. By stimulating your child’s senses, you are helping them develop creatively, socially and emotionally, cognitively, linguistically and physically.
What is sensory play?
Sensory play is any activity that stimulates the child’s senses. These senses include touch, smell, taste, movement, balance, sight and hearing. Just about any type of play a kid is involved in stimulates at least one or more senses. However, some activities are more stimulating to the sense than the others.
Here is a list of skills children develop when engaging in sensory play:
Children develop their language skills as they talk about their experiences. Playing with various types of textures and tastes help your child enrich their vocabulary as they learn how to describe them. For instance, tastes can help your child communicate more effectively. He/she might not want rice for dinner, but something which is salty, sweet or tangy. Definitely not bitter or bland.
Kids who engage in sensory experiences with others learn to share, negotiate, and plan. Social skills play an important role in a child’s emotional health and well-being. These skills are crucial in making and sustaining friendships. An individual needs to be able to react appropriately whenever there is a disagreement. It is also important for individuals to have empathy as it allows them to respond in an understanding and caring way to how others are feeling.
Fine motor skills
Fine motor skills refers to the ability to use and coordinate small muscle groups. As the little ones manipulate small objects, they develop their fine motor skills. These skills are vital for writing, buttoning, zipping and tying shoes laces. Wringing out sponges in water, scooping ladles of rice or rolling play-dough into snakes, all help children develop their fine motor skills as they play with sensory materials.
Gross motor skills
Gross motor skills are those that require the coordination of large muscle groups and are responsible for activities like running, squatting, jumping and walking. Working on gross motor skills helps a child gain strength and confidence in his/her body. It also helps them get exercise and physical activity, which is important for a healthy lifestyle.
Scientific reasoning skills
Scientific reasoning includes thinking and reasoning skills involved in inquiry and experimentation. Children learn about cause and effect when manipulating sensory materials.
Self-Control is the thinking skill that helps children learn to control their feelings and behaviours to make good decisions. It helps to reduce impulsive actions and enables them to handle frustrations effectively. Kids develop self-control as they learn to respect the rules and boundaries for sensory play
Sensory play is calming
Sensory play is great for calming an anxious or frustrated child. A session of jumping and running around or a good bath time can help children be more collected. Kinetic sand trays, for example, are popular among many child therapists. This type of sensory activities helps nervous kids to regulate their internal discomfort. The discomfort can be boredom, restlessness or agitation.
Take part in our Facebook contest and stand a chance to win a BusyTables Sensory Play session. Visit our Facebook page and tag fellow parents in the comments section, starting now till 4 Feb 2018, 11:59pm. The more friends you tag, the higher your chance of winning. Best of luck!