Sensory play is a crucial aspect of early childhood development. It engages children's senses and helps them understand the world around them through the child's primary senses – touch, hearing, sight, smell, and taste. To learn more about the benefits of sensory play, we decided to collaborate with Jennifer Stalley. She is the founder of Meemzy Magic, a company focused on creating sensory bins and kits for kids of all ages. Let’s dive in and find out how sensory play can benefit your child!
The Big Benefits of Sensory Play for Little Ones
Sensory play offers a wide range of benefits for children's development. Let's explore these benefits according to each sense:
Tactile play, which involves exploring objects with hands, helps children learn about weight, pressure, temperature, and textures.
Activities that encourage children to track movement or differentiate between items enhance their visual perception and eyesight. Engaging their sense of sight through sensory play promotes visual development.
Auditory play introduces children to different sounds and helps them differentiate between them. By exploring sound, children enhance their hearing abilities and auditory discrimination skills. Sensory kits with sound-based activities can be particularly beneficial in this regard.
4. Smell and Taste
Exploring different scents and tastes helps children in exactly the way you’d think; it develops and refines their senses of smell and taste. Sensory play involving smelling and tasting various items allows children to differentiate between different scents and flavors, which enhances their sensory awareness and ability to discern.
Sensory play involving physical activities like pushing, pulling, and jumping helps children develop their proprioceptive abilities. These activities promote spatial awareness and enable children to understand how their bodies move without relying on visual cues.
The vestibular system, situated in the inner ear, is responsible for balance and movement. Engaging in physical play that involves different head positions strengthens the vestibular system. This, in turn, enhances children's balance, coordination, and overall motor skills.
MESH Benefits of Sensory Play
Sensory play also has a variety of MESH (Mindsets, Essential Skills, and Habits) benefits that make these activities even more enticing to parents and educators. Here are some of the other benefits of sensory play:
Like we listed above, sensory input involves processing information received from our surroundings through our senses. For children, exposure to various textures, colors, and stimuli fosters self-awareness and understanding of their environment. Engaging in sensory play helps them cultivate a sense of calm and control, reducing stress and anxiety. Additionally, it encourages social interactions as children share these experiences.
Childhood stress and anxiety are significant concerns, affecting 1 in 3 children in the USA. This underscores the importance of making sensory play a regular part of a child's routine. It provides a soothing escape where children can explore at their own pace. Research indicates that sensory play can reduce stress and anxiety by up to 65%, underscoring its vital role in safeguarding children's mental well-being.
Sensory play anchors children in the present moment, diverting them from worries about the past or future. As they engage with their senses, it offers a sense of calm and mindfulness. Scientifically, sensory play triggers the release of endorphins, the body's natural feel-good chemicals, potentially reducing anxiety symptoms and improving mood.
Sensory play offers a wholesome alternative to passive screen time. Unlike mindlessly zoning out in front of screens, sensory play provides purposeful downtime. It allows children to rest, focus, and reflect, promoting constructive thought and emotional processing. This approach not only fosters leisure but also personal growth.
Sensory play naturally leads to collaborative scenarios, where children learn to share and appreciate diverse perspectives. It enriches a child's emotional intelligence and lays the foundation for strong social well-being. Interacting with peers of varying abilities fosters empathy, patience, and genuine acceptance of diversity.
Enjoy All The Benefits of Sensory Play!
Sensory play is a powerful tool for early childhood development. It allows children to explore the world through their senses and build crucial cognitive and motor skills. By engaging in sensory play activities, children can enhance their touch, sight, sound, smell, taste, proprioception, and vestibular senses. So, engage your child with sensory play and reap the numerous benefits for years to come.