Why Sensory Play is so Important to Child Development
Rose sat quietly running her fingers through the milk spilled on the highchair. Her eyes fixated on the patterns being formed as her fingers streaked through the liquid. The milk puddled around an open marker. Rose’s eyes lit up and a smile brightened her face. The purple tint from the marker bled into the white milk. Rose slowly lifted her hand and held it above the swirling colors. She wanted very much to touch this new color, but her fascination in watching the colors meld together was very soothing to her. Eventually, curiosity got the best of her and her tiny finger poked at the purple color. Quickly she jerked her hand back and sat amazed as the colors danced about the high chair. Rose had just experienced an important part of child development, sensory play. In this article, Kidz World hopes to define why sensory play is so important to Child Development.
What is Sensory Play
Sensory play is any play that is stimulating to the five senses be it one sense or multiple senses at once. Exploration through sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch is the basis of sensory play. Often when we think of sensory play, we think of fine motor skills at work. Don’t limit yourself to that line of thinking, however. Gross motor skills are used in a multitude of sensory play. Picture the toddler bounding through the parking lot to the one puddle of water that is pulling him like some type of gravitational pull that you cannot hold him back from. His eyes meet the suns sparkle off the small pool and BAM, he’s off like lightning to see and feel the water splash and hear the sound of the water being disrupted on the pavement.
More than Touch
It’s time for a flashback. What smell triggers a memory for you? Could it be that freshly baked apple pie that wafted through your Mamaw’s house? How old were you the first time you remember that smell? What about a song? Is there a song you hear that suddenly transports you back to a time that makes your eyes glaze over and you become a child once again? How about taste? How hard did you work to hide that broccoli your mom was so insistent you eat? We can learn so many things through our senses and in learning those things we create memories that stick with us for a lifetime.
Bringing Sensory Play into Family Time
I remember, many years ago, having a family mud fight. We were covered in mud head to toe. We laughed and played for hours in the mud. Thinking back on that time just makes me smile. The mud had a lot of clay in it and the smell was so strong, but the clay only enhanced the smearing of the mud. You probably think, “oh my word… no! I am not cleaning up that mess!”. Well, it was the middle of summer and a water hose lay close at hand and just played further into our fun with sensory play. “Messy play can be calming to children. It is not just about making a mess and getting dirty; it is an essential component to learning that encourages exploration and discovery through play.” Creative Connections for Kids. What about the times you spend in the pool with your family? On a basketball court? A nature walk? Gardening? A bicycle ride? If you can see it, smell it, taste it, touch it, and hear it, you are experiencing sensory play and you are only limited by your own imagination in exploring its limitations.
The Benefits of Sensory Play
When you take play from a one-dimensional platform and turn it into a multi-dimensional experience, the child is more apt to learn and remember. For instance, you can read to a child, but… if you read to a child with a puppet and in funny voices, you have taken learning to a whole new experience and the child has gotten much more out of it. Sensory play boosts areas of child development such as communication and language, personal, social, and emotional, physical, literacy, math, social studies, and expressive art and design. As you can see, sensory play touches many areas of child development across the board. With sensory play, a child’s world is opened up from a black and white hidden corner of the world to a whole colorful world with brilliant rainbows, cascading waterfalls, and towering mountains beneath a powder blue sky lit brightly by its radiant sun and bedazzled by its billowing clouds forming shapes for every imagination.
Author: Belinda Davis ©2018