Look. Listen. Touch. Smell. Taste. Five fundamental elements of life that we often take for granted.
These are the senses that we’re born with and quickly learn to adapt with as we journey through our initial development phases. Each of us will experience them in slightly differing ways, and some will of course suffer additional challenges or certain limitations to one or more sense, but we will all go through life engaging with the world in large part through our senses. In this day and age, there are a plethora of activities used to engage young children, many aimed at helping them experiment with the key attributes associated with the five predominant senses as they grow, both in home and educational environments.
These methods tend to recruit a variety of textures, substances, ingredients and props in general which come together to create an overall awareness and stimulation of the core senses. Everything from playdough, water/sand play, sensory bags, finger painting and interaction with animals, music, or light, even trampolining; there’s an almost inexhaustible selection to choose from today! The benefits which academics have discovered to be most clear when toddlers embrace sensory play are varied, but include the following truths now commonly acknowledged by those tailoring early years learning packages.
So, what do we at Creative Play consider – or rather, in agreement with experts in their particular field – consider to be five key benefits of sensory play? It’s long been established that young children are oriented toward sensory experiences, with toddlers given carte blanche to discover the world around them courtesy of seeing, hearing, touching, tasting and smelling. They rarely get as excited and engaged as when they get to dabble with hyper sensory materials to determine if they’re warm or cool, wet or dry, rough or smooth. These experiences lay the foundations for learning other skills, along with fine-tuning motor muscles to boot. Discovery of such essential characteristics is a natural starting point for a myriad of life’s journeys. Generally-speaking, specialists collectively understand that the five key benefits of sensory play are as follows;
1. Sensory play builds nerve connections within the developing brain’s neural pathways, which trigger a child’s inclination for and ability in competing more complex learning tasks
2. Sensory play supports language development, cognitive growth, motor skills, problem solving skills, and social interaction
3. Sensory play aids in developing and enhancing memory functioning
4. Sensory play is great for calming an anxious or frustrated child
5. Sensory play helps children learn vitally important sensory attributes (hot, cold, sticky, dry, etc)
It’s also worth noting that sensory play can go that step further when involving children who suffer from medical conditions which they’re either born with or develop at a later stage, including deafness, blindness and a variety of other illnesses or challenges which can challenge their ability to learn and develop certain skills. Here at Creative Play, we’re really passionate about building play spaces that are inclusive for all children, and we believe that sensory play activities, products and approaches really come into their own with individuals or groups who may struggle to grasp certain skills or actions, whatever the reason may be.
Sensory play is being utilised more than ever before in a range of scenarios and settings, as many adopt a more proactive stance in empowering and facilitating children to use their sense to develop a variety of skills at the beginning of their life journey. We love that Creative Play get to be a part of supporting that journey, and we’d love to talk to you about how we can support your children with their sensory play needs.