Today we begin a series of posts that we hope will help you understand what Sensory Play is and how it can help your child learn through play. You might have had questions about our focus on sensory play materials.
- Why play with playdough? It’s so messy!
- Why bother with water beads? It’s so boring to just touch and feel them in a tub of water.
- Is it really important to engage my child’s senses in play and learning?
- What are the benefits of sensory play?
We are happy to answer your questions here in a series of posts. We don’t want to bore you with a long essay, so we will attempt to break it up into shorter posts so you can mull over these pointers throughout the day and as you interact with your child.
Sensory Play is Natural
As babies, we all develop our awareness of the world around us through our senses, before language or structures are formally taught to us. From birth, we become familiar with the smell of our parents, feel their warmth as they carry us, and are comforted by their touch and the sound of their voices. These sensory experiences of a caregiver’s touch, the taste of milk, the comforting voice of caregivers, the smell of a favourite blankie, the sights of happy faces and stern tones helps a baby make sense of family and home. As your child’s awareness grows, sensory exploration and play is really a natural extension for them to develop cognitively and creatively. They see, feel, hear, smell and taste the world around them, all through their senses.
Associations are strong when a child’s senses are engaged. Ever wondered why a baby loves to put things into his/her mouth? That is really one of the ways a baby can be aquainted with a toy, blankie or even a book! Sensory Play is instinctive, it is natural and should be encouraged.
When a child explores with his senses, he is really a little scientist in action. He forms impressions and he finds the vocabulary to describe his ‘findings’. It sometimes feels strange to break these processes down because it is just clearly second nature to a child. Play is always sensory.
Observe your child at play today. What senses does he/she engage? How does your child learn best? What appeals most to your child at play – music? hands-on activities like finger painting or building blocks?
Sit with your child today and just play along! Build a fort together, make a 3-course meal with playdough or listen to nursery rhymes over dinner. Every sensory experience will add to your child’s knowledge and understand of the world we live in. I am sure you will also enjoy the quality time you can have with your child by observing the fun, and then joining in!