How Sensory Play Can Aid Your Child’s Development

January 7, 2022

From when they are born, children use their senses to understand the large and confusing world around them. It is a process that comes naturally to most children; babies start gurgling from 3 months old, use taste to identify objects and can recognise their mother’s voice from birth. Sensory experimentation helps children develop tools to interact with the world — tools they will carry into adulthood. By integrating sensory play into your child’s daily activities, they will learn how to interact with the world and make meaningful decisions about it.

Sensory Play Explained

When you think of sensory play, kinetic sand, fidget toys and messy paint activities may jump into your mind, but sensory play is much more than that. In a child’s development, effective sensory play is any action that uses the senses to interpret the world around them. These include activities that focus on smell, touch, sight, sound, taste, balance and movement. There are many ways to engage in sensory play with your child depending on their age. For example, sensory play for babies may emphasise touch and sight as they gradually learn to distinguish their bodies from the rest of the world. Learning these skills in a safe environment has many benefits in terms of child development.

Advantages Of Sensory Play

Sensory play may seem innocuous to an onlooker, but this kind of exploration is a key element of early childhood development. Alongside encouraging children to explore the material world and make connections (between smell and food, for instance), it allows children to refine their thresholds for sensory input. As children get older, they learn what sensory information is and isn’t important. They learn to ignore the sound of cars passing by whilst at home, but know that a fire alarm means danger. When children don’t learn how to filter out non-essential information, this can become overwhelming as with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). In this case, the world becomes overstimulating and stressful for the child who cannot filter out non-essential stimuli. Engaging with sensory play in a safe environment can help the child build important skills for operating in the world.

Ideas For Sensory Play

There are many ways you can engage with sensory play. Anything that uses the senses can be considered sensory play, the only limit is your imagination. That said, we’ve got some ideas for sensory play with different age groups to get you started:

Babies: Use dry pasta in a container and let the baby play with it; you can use different types of pasta for different textures. To experiment with sound, put the pasta in a clear jar for them to shake.

Toddlers – Preschool (3-5): Make lavender-scented rice and place in a large tray for your toddler to play with. This activity helps the child process texture, sound and smell.

Children (6-9): Pretend-play is another formative skill for children. A role play flower shop can help them learn essential skills for interpersonal interactions as well as engaging in the sensory experience of picking or crafting flowers.

Start Sensory Play With Your Child Today

Sensory play is a fun way to engage with your children and help them through important stages of early childhood development. A leading childcare centre like MindChamps understands the importance of sensory play and integrates it into daily activities. Enrolling your child in a centre that is dedicated to providing fun and educational activities will ensure your child has the best chance of developing essential skills to interact with the world. If you’re interested in enrolling your child with MindChamps, consider registering with us online or booking a tour at your nearest centre. Give your child a head start with sensory play at MindChamps.