“My child doesn’t have Sensory Processing Disorder. Do they still need sensory play?” This is a common question I get from readers.
The answer is “absolutely yes”! Sensory play is important for all children. Sensory play can improve your child’s development, cognition, social skills, and behaviour.
As more research is done, experts are recognizing the importance of sensory play and touting its benefits. Sensory play is not only important for babies and toddlers, it’s good for kids of all ages.
And of course, if your child is exhibiting signs of sensory issues, then sensory play is a critical component of their days.
Just some of the benefits of sensory play for kids:
- exploration of the world around them
- encourages problem solving
- increases brain development
- provides sensory input
- leads to better retention in learning
- promotes language development
- helps regulate emotions and behaviour
- improves fine motor skills and gross motor skills
- introduces opportunities for social skills
- makes learning interesting and fun
Even if your child doesn’t have Sensory Processing Disorder or obvious sensory issues, all of us have sensory preferences. Sensory play can help us to get out of our sensory comfort zone. It can introduce tastes, textures, sounds, sights, and smells that we may not be familiar with or may not be as comfortable with.
Another great reason that all kids need sensory play? Sensory input, particularly proprioceptive input helps regulate mood and behaviour. If you’re a parent, that reason alone should be enough to have you scrambling to climb aboard the sensory train!
This doesn’t have to be complicated or involve you spending hundreds of dollars on fancy equipment. It only requires that you take more notice of what opportunities are around.
Simple sensory play ideas:
- Fill a plastic container with shaving cream. Drop a few toys in and let your child dig to find them.
- Let them play in dirt or mud. Messy play is good for them!
- Get out the fingerpaints or make some of your own.
- Go on an outdoor sensory scavenger hunt.
- Take them to a playground. The merry-go-round, monkey bars, swing, and slide all provide great sensory input.
- Fill a laundry basket with books and have your child push it around.
- Allow your child to walk outside barefoot.
- Let your child help you bake. Kneading, mixing, rolling, and decorating.
- Play with playdough.
- Make some sensory smell bottles.
You can find all of our sensory play activities here. Incorporating several into every day can make such a difference for your child.