Understanding the importance of sensory play can help you open doors for your child’s development, cognition, and behaviour. There are some impressive benefits for something that seems simple. Let me explain.Sensory play may be a popular phrase at the moment, but that doesn’t mean that it is just a passing phase. I believe that as more and more research continues to come out pointing out the benefits of sensory play, it will only increase in prevalence among early childhood educators and parents.
Sensory play is any activity that involves engaging the senses. Generally speaking, the more senses you can include, the better.
The Importance of Sensory Play:
Encourages problem solving.
As children manipulate objects and explore through their senses, they are developing key strategies to problem solving. Guessing, experimenting, testing assumptions, and drawing conclusions are all foundations for the scientific method.
Increases brain development.
Kids learn about the world around them and their own senses and body responses through the senses. When the senses are engaged, neural pathways in the brain are being created. These neural pathways are what will help your child in learning throughout their life.
Provides sensory input.
Getting adequate sensory input each day is important for every child. It is even more crucial for kids who have Sensory Processing Disorder.
When children use more of their senses while learning, they are better able to retain what they’ve learned.
During sensory play, a child can describe what they are touching, tasting, hearing, seeing, smelling, or experiencing through their body sensations.
Learning descriptive words in relation to their senses such as “smooth”, “rough”, “soft”, “cold”, “fragrant”, “sweet”, “spicy” and so many more expand a child’s vocabulary.
Regulating emotions and behaviour.
Certain types of sensory play can be calming and assist a child in self-regulation. Heavy work, sensory input that engages the proprioception sensory system can be particularly effective in regulating behaviour.
Focusing on a sensory activity can help calm a child’s anxiety, particularly if it is an activity dedicated to calming such as one that uses lavender scent.
Improves fine motor skills.
The type of movement involved in sensory play such as squeezing, pinching, sorting, placing, and scooping are designed to improve fine motor skills and increase coordination.
Sparks an interest in learning.
Adding sensory elements into teaching restores a child’s focus and can spark an interest in learning. Children who learn through play get more enjoyment out of it and thus, want to do more of it. There are many ways to incorporate sensory play into teaching.
Sensory science, themed sensory bins, unit studies that incorporate sensory play, and sensory stations are just some methods to bring learning and sensory together.
There’s another benefit to sensory play that is just as important as all the others mentioned here. It’s fun!