The Importance of Sensory Play For Kids
Why Sensory Play Can Be So Important For Kids — and Promotes Inclusivity
Sensory play includes any activity that stimulates a child's senses, from touch, smell, and taste to movement, balance, sight, and hearing. For growing toddlers and children, research shows that these activities can support cognitive growth, motor skills, problem-solving skills, language development, and even social interaction. This is especially important for kids who have a mental disorder like autism or Down syndrome.
Luckily, there's lots you can do with your child to give them the sensory stimulation they need. Below, we dive a bit deeper into the benefits of sensory play — and give some recommendations for simple sensory activities you can do right at home.
Sensory Play Promotes Inclusivity
All children learn differently. For some, it may be easy to sit in front of a tablet and learn or listen to a teacher talk or eat the foods they are given. For others, it isn't. What's wonderful about sensory play is that it can be tailored to what children need, while helping them discover new thoughts, feelings, and sensations in a safe space.
It Helps With Problem Solving
Sensory play can build nerve connections in the brain, which can lead to a child's ability to complete complex learning tasks. More simply, learning begets learning. Creating problem-solving tasks for young children is easy (and fun!). How can you get flowers to grow? Take your child through the process of gardening. They'll get a chance to feel dry soil and wet soil, put the soil into a pot (for their motor skills), plant a tiny seed, watch it grow, and even smell their new flowers. In this one task, there is so much for a child to experience — all of it beneficial for a growing mind.
It Can Calm Anxious Children
If a child is particularly nervous, whether it's around loud noises or groups of people, providing them with a sensory toy can be a way to promote comfort. Take this cocoon seat, for example. It's soft and cushy, and it will provide your child with a safe, comfortable way to gently get exposed to new things that might feel a little scary.
It Teaches Them About Sensory Attributes
For a child who may be squeamish about new foods, let them play with their food first. This can allow them to experience the difference between, say, hot and cold or smooth and sticky. As they get to know different textures and temperatures, suggest they taste the food they're playing with. In this case, playing with your food can be a good thing.