We all want our children to have every opportunity to grow and flourish. It can be overwhelming to think about all that a little person must learn to do even before entering elementary school! What can parents do to facilitate their toddler’s or preschooler’s learning? The answer may be simpler than you think!
Even as infants our children are learning. Have you ever tried to read your baby a book only to have her stick it in her mouth and chew on it? She is experiencing her world orally. As your baby grows into a toddler and then a preschooler, her experiences may become more sophisticated, but she is still learning through her senses. Parents can help their toddler and preschool children develop and learn by providing simple sensory experiences for them to enjoy.
Benefits of Sensory Play
- Vocabulary Development – One great benefit of sensory play is that it helps grow your kiddo’s vocabulary. For instance, when your child is playing with playdough, you can ask him how the playdough feels. Helping your kid put labels such as sticky, mushy, or tacky on a material he is playing with benefits his vocabulary growth tremendously!
- Fine Motor Skills Development– Another advantage of providing sensory play experiences for your child is that it aids her fine motor skill development. Fine motor skills are anything that requires your child to make small movements with her hands, fingers, feet, toes, or other body parts. When your little one is holding a small item, buttoning, tracing, etc, she is actually learning to use her smaller muscles.
- Emotional Development – We’ve all experienced how therapeutic activity can be when we are experiencing high levels of emotion. Sensory play naturally provides the same outlet for children. For example, your child may find sand play soothing as he feels the grains run through his fingers. An angry child feels the satisfaction of building a structure and then knocking it down. Listening to music can help an anxious child feel peaceful.
- Neurological Development – Research shows that sensory play actually helps build neural connections in children’s brains. It may look like your kid is only smelling the cake batter she is stirring; in reality, she is also constructing important neural pathways that will aid her brain development!
Visit us on Pinterest! A quick perusal of the internet will yield a plethora of suggestions for sensory play. Check out Red Apple Reading’s Pinterest page, Kinesthetic Learners, for great ideas on how to get started!