Children absolutely love exploring the world using their senses, and their curious nature has many benefits for their development. Sensory play is defined as any sort of activity that stimulates the senses, building a child’s cognitive skills and influencing how they learn about their surroundings.
Whilst engaging in sensory play with your child is vital for their growth, lots of people do not understand its advantages and are unaware of how to introduce it into their child’s routine. Here, we discuss some of the ways you can assist your child in discovering their sensory world and the benefits that this can lead to.
What activities are suitable for sensory play?
There are plenty of great ways to stimulate sensory play but you mustn’t direct the play. Simply allow the children to explore the environment freely on their own and supervise to ensure no small items become a choking hazard.
One activity you could try is to fill up a plastic container with different objects like small toys, dried pasta or cotton balls and allow them to touch and identify each object. You could also take part in some finger painting – whilst it is a messy activity, it can also help to express their feelings.
Try to get your child to walk barefoot as often as you can, preferably outside where they can benefit from jumping, rolling and crawling in the grass or sand. To avoid injury, you can get your child a pair of barefoot shoes which mimic the effects of barefoot walking but have the advantage of providing the soles of their feet with some protection.
What are the potential benefits of sensory play?
Improves fine motor skills
One of the main benefits of sensory play is that can help to develop your child’s fine motor skills. This includes day-to-day activities like writing, tying shoes and buttoning up coats. Through tactile play that concentrates on creativity and construction, your child can strengthen their ability to use small muscle groups and coordinate their movements more effectively.
Leads to relaxation
Our sensory systems help to calm us down, which is particularly important for children who are entering their development stages. Sensory play can improve your child’s ability to regulate arousal levels and stimulate children who might otherwise be quite sluggish. On the opposite end of the spectrum, it can help with calming hyperactive children who struggle to pay attention.
Fosters social interaction
Getting your child to engage in sensory play alongside their peers or siblings can enhance their social skills, which is vital when trying to get them to communicate verbally and physically. Doing so means they learn how to deal with their problems and adapt to suit how others play and interact.
Facilitates brain development
There is research supporting the idea that sensory play helps to strengthen the neural pathways in the brain. This is necessary for stronger memory skills and helps to build the foundation for more complicated learning in future years. It can also help to improve problem-solving skills once education begins.