Sensory play is a crucial aspect of early childhood development that helps babies and toddlers to explore their world and develop their senses. If you have a child that likes to get messy, exploring activities that stimulate their sense of touch, smell, sight, taste and sound – you might have a sensory seeker on your hands!
When you create an activity based around ‘sensory play’ it can be as simple as feeling the texture of different fabrics or exploring the sounds of musical instruments. Read on as we explore why sensory play is so important for babies and toddlers – both in care and at home.
Activities that are sensory based and involve manipulating and handling objects help develop a child's fine and gross motor skills. For instance, activities that involve pouring, squeezing, and manipulating play dough strengthen their hand muscles and improve hand-eye coordination. These are crucial skills for development as your baby and toddler grows.
Activities that are sensory based are also often open ended, and encourage children to use their imagination and creativity. Children can create their own scenarios and stories, leading to endless possibilities for play. This type of play also helps children develop problem-solving skills, as they use their creativity to figure out solutions to problems they encounter during play.
Play activities that are sensory based can also promote language development in young children. As they explore different materials and textures, they learn new words and concepts that help expand their vocabulary. Activities like singing, reading, and storytelling also help to develop language skills.
In addition to these language developments, social skills can also be honed and strengthened when children in engage in sensory activities, as they provide opportunities for children to play and interact with others. This interaction helps develop social skills like sharing, turn-taking, and cooperation. Playing with others also helps children learn empathy and build relationships.
Many of these sense stimulating projects encourage exploration, experimentation, and problem-solving which is a strong driver for cognitive development. Sensory experiences also help children develop memory and focus. For instance, exploring different smells and textures of foods can help children develop their sense of taste and smell, which in turn helps them make connections between their experiences and memories.
It’s easy to see why sensory play is an essential component of early childhood development – put simply it provides a safe and fun way for children to explore their environment and develop their senses. Parents and caregivers play an important role in creating these opportunities for sensory play by providing a variety of materials and activities that engage a child's senses. At Genius, every room offers many opportunities for sensory play that children of different ages and stages can engage with and use as they wish. Our educators also regularly create guided explorations of sensory play to teach children different ways to explore and develop their senses.
If you’d like to see our centres and curriculum in action, book a tour at your nearest Genius here!