Motor and Sensory play is an important aspect of learning for children of all ages. Early Childhood Educators believe that children learn using their senses. A child learns to use her senses from birth, beginning with touching, hearing, seeing, smelling, and tasting. Throughout each stage of development, children use their senses to explore the world around them. We’ve all seen instances where our children are physically drawn to sensory experiences, from babies putting things into their mouths to toddlers feeling the urge to splash about in a small puddle. Children are compelled by nature to put things in holes and are naturally drawn to pouring, sliding materials, rolling, and putting objects down ramps and chutes.
Sensory experiences are an essential part of development for all age groups, from babies, to toddlers, and even pre-schoolers. As parents and nannies, we don’t give children enough opportunities to explore their world through sensory experiences. There are many barriers to sensory play, from concerns with safety or simply just not making a mess. Sensory play is messy-it means water, glue, or paint on the floor or sand tracked through the house. Examine your own tolerance for messiness and weigh it against the benefits of sensory play for children. Also, it is important to note that cleaning up these messes also creates an opportunity for creative problem solving. You can work together with the children and create your own rules to keep messes to a minimum and clean as you go.
However, there are many ways we can use sensory play to flourish our child’s development. Experts believe that there are three major benefits to sensory play: Stimulating the senses sends signals to children’s brains that help to strengthen neural pathways important for all types of learning. In example, a child’s sense of touch helps lay the foundation for other important skills, such as identifying objects by touch and using fine motor skills. Also, differentiating between these characteristics is an early step of sorting, a fundamental concept for toddlers and pre-schoolers. Sensory play also offers children a sense of emotional awareness and competence. Sensory play can also help children, of any age, discover their sense of self and identity. For example, a child may discover she likes the feel of sand or maybe doesn’t like the feel of wet sand, and so on. This type of play can help children develop preferences and learn about themselves. Additionally, sculpting, moulding, dumping, splashing and pouring are great exercises for strengthening and developing motor skills.