Children learn so much when they engage with their senses. Sensory play in particular is fun and it gives children a chance to be creative. In turn they will learn from their experiences. A lot of memories that adults have are formed from sensory experiences they had when they were a child.
By engaging with different materials and having the freedom to explore them on their own, they learn important skills such as problem solving, and critical thinking. If we want our children to thrive in todays fast paced, academic world then we need to focus a great deal on sensory play when our children are young.
Here is a list of reasons why sensory play is beneficial for our children’s development.
1. Sensory Play helps develop linguistic skills
When children have the opportunity to play and explore with different materials, they learn the true meaning of new words. For example, if a child is playing with slime (or something of that nature), we would describe is as being “gewy” or “squishy”. A child can then relate a certain material to a feeling or texture which is then paired with a descriptive word. This type of language is both descriptive and expressive and helps build your child’s communication skills.
2 Sensory Play helps develop social skills
When children are encouraged to work together with a range of materials, they have to use social skills. They need to talk about the different materials and how they can work with them. They can collaboratively come up with ideas and plans for what to do with the materials they have. It promotes, sharing and taking turns. It also encourages the children to express themselves by having to communicate with one another. Lego is a wonderful example for this. If you put a tray of lego in front of a group of children and ask them to make something, they may decide to make something as a group or make something individually. Either way, it is encouraging conversation and the children are exchanging ideas and communicating with one another in a constructive and cohesive way.
3. Sensory Play helps develop a child’s cognitive skills
Sensory exploration is wonderful for developing problem solving skills. Children are often instructed to follow a routine or steps in order to complete something but when you give a chid a task to complete with no instructions, it is amazing what the come up with. If you gave a bunch of random materials to your child (feather, nut, wood, crayons, leaves for example) and asked them to make a picture from them, a child will use their imagination and creativity to come up with something. By encouraging your child to explore different materials like this, they learn to make decisions, solve problems and think creatively. This is very important for cognitive development and will have an impact in their every day life. If a child can learns these skills at a young age, they have a great foundation for larger life skills.
4. Sensory play promotes number skills
Sensory play is a wonderful introduction to maths skills. It promotes counting, sorting and comparing which again lays a great foundation for maths later on.
5. Sensory play helps with a child’s physical development
Sensory play is a great way for developing fine motor skills. Measuring, mixing, grinding, stacking, separating, building etc are all good for your child’s hand muscle strength and pincer grip development. If a child has a developmental delay for any reason, encouraging your child to do do such activities can help improve their fine motor skills.
Children that are introduced to a wide range of sensory play when they were younger are more likely to be creative problem solvers. They tend to have more self esteem and confidence as they know they can attempt to tackle whatever task they are given. People make mistakes but if a child is taught that it is ok to make mistakes and to try to think round the problem and solve it a different way then they will take these opportunities as learning moments and think of them as just a minor setback. Sensory play helps children become more resilient by trying different ideas until one works. These are children who are going to thrive.
Sensory Play helps develop:
• Linguistic Skills
• Maths skills
• Fine Motor skills
• Thinking skills
• Social and emotional development
• Problem solving skills