5 Key Benefits Of Sensory Play For Children Of All Ages
Sensory play is a stimulating and valuable way of engaging children in activities that will increase their senses and improve their learning. This open-ended style of learning, with no pre-determined results, will fascinate, stimulate, and support children of all abilities to simply experience the joy of play and have fun.
From birth, children continually explore and process all new information, in order to make sense of the world around them.  We think nothing of surrounding a baby with an array of tactile materials and resources, to squish, push, shake, and put in their mouths but – apart from being fun – sensory play is beneficial for children of all ages.

  1. Sensory play aids brain development

By stimulating your child’s senses you are helping their brain develop because when a sense is engaged, neural pathways are being created to help with further learning in later years.
Sensory activities allow children to refine their thresholds for different sensory information, helping their brain to create stronger connections to sensory information and learn which are useful and which can be filtered out.
Sensory play is not only important for babies and toddlers, who often have the time to play and explore at home, but also for preschoolers and school aged children.
When your child is allowed to use multiple senses to accomplish a task, they will learn more from the experience and retain more information.
Kittie Butcher from Michigan State University Extension confirms that ‘early childhood educators cannot overstate the importance of sensory play in the educational process. It is the foundation of all the skills children will use in school learning to read, write and solve math and science problems. Once a child has these experiences, they are able to draw upon the body memory and cognitive memory of their experiences when faced with new situations.’ The full article can be found here.
So when your child is playing with their food, grabbing for your keys or playing in the dirt, remember that this is all vital learning.

  1. Sensory play aids speech development

With the freedom on sensory play and it’s ‘no rules’ ethos, comes the opportunity for speech and language development. Have you ever stepped back from your child when they are in the middle of their imaginative play and thought WOW where is all this coming from. I often hear my 14-month old son babbling away when typically he is quite quiet. It is then a great opportunity to model new words, practice receptive language away from my everyday language.
Sensory play lends itself to pretending and imagining, which encourages language. By adding characters and props in to the play scenario, children have the ability to practice conversation with a play mate or themselves. And further down the line, letters can be added in to the mix which will help with letter recognition.
Furthermore, sensory play allows you to use language with children that you may not use in your day-to-day. It allows you to encourage discussion, for example, playing I-Spy games to encourage children to build up their vocabulary of everyday objects. It gives space for using expressive language such as heavy, sticky, gooey, crinkly, shiny, shallow etc.

  1. Sensory play aids literacy

Sensory play encourages children to express thoughts and feelings in other forms than words, and it aids them in the process of finding meaning behind the language they are exposed to. Words that would be rarely used in their everyday will need little explanation as the children will be able to gain first-hand experience about their meaning through exploration of play. As the child’s vocabulary increases, their ability and confidence to produce words will increase. As they physically engage with letter forms (see our alphabet pebbles), children will develop stronger links to the letters, sounds and their role in early literacy.
Children can stack, turn, place things in order, which all help to develop hand and arm muscles, as well as hand eye coordination, getting children ready to write.

  1. Sensory play aids independence

Maria Montessori believes that experiencing independence is not just a game for children, saying that “it’s a task they must accomplish in order to grow.” Building independence is part of an individual’s social skills; self-reliance allows the child to feel they have control over their life.
In an unrestricted play environment where there is no right or wrong way to do things, this is the perfect situation to allow your child to play how they want to. By using their own mind to plan, explore and problem-solve, they are building a self-confidence and self-esteem that will develop them as independent people.

  1. Sensory play aids anxiety

Sensory resources can help calm children when they are feeling restless or anxious. See our sensory worry stones for a great resource! The tactile stones have been designed to soothe and calm children, helping them to focus, concentrate and feel secure: key elements of productive learning. By holding and/or rubbing a stone, a child’s sensory input is occupied, helping to relieve stress and anxiety, freeing their mind to focus on the task in front of them.
Furthermore, there are huge benefits of sensory activities for children with autism. Engaging children with autism in sensory activities is beneficial in several ways, as it can help with: stimulating the brain, creating neural pathways and improving sensory processing systems. Improving social skills such as communication and cooperation.
May 23, 2019 — admin