In our house we are BIG fans of sensory play. We have been doing sensory play activities since L was a baby. From waving silk scarves along his supple baby skin, to tickling his feet with feathers, it has been paramount to us that we provide multiple opportunities for L to have sensory experiences with his world.
The benefits of sensory play are HUGE and I mean HUGE! There are so many articles out there, both researched and anecdotal, that will give you a multitude of reasons for engaging in sensory play. Reasons like building critical and creative thinking skills, problem solving skills and fine motor skills among the most popular. There is one article that I read recently, which really resonated with me, by Susie, over at Busy Toddler. She outlines her top 6 reasons why sensory play is important for our children. Do yourself a favour, and check out the link to have a read. It really is quite useful https://busytoddler.com/2018/04/why-is-sensory-play-important/
While these articles, and Susie’s in particular, make so much sense to me, I must share with you why sensory play is so important for US!
Families are all different. We all thrive and function in our own way. Like a perfectly created ecosystem we each have a role to play and a job to do. But while I am the facilitator of sensory play in our house- the one who diligently researches and draws upon my years of experience in the classroom- when we are playing together I can guarantee that there is ONE thing happening for the both of us. CONNECTION – sensory play keeps us connected.
Logistically, the adult obviously needs to be present. From a young age we have allowed L to play with all sorts of things to encourage sensory learning. Many of these things could be choking hazards like small shells, pom poms, rocks and other loose parts. So it is vital that we supervise him diligently, which means putting our phones down, watching him closely and even getting involved.
It doesn’t take long to realise that by supervising him so closely, we were given the opportunity to connect with him in such an organic and fun way. We could study his face and his hands as he mindfully navigates the sensory bins. We are forever touched by his awestruck eyes when he discovers something new and turns to share his excitement with us, completely oblivious to the fact that we have been soaking him up every step of the way. We can tell the exact moment that a new connection has happened in his mind because we have been watching him explore. Sounds pretty special hey?!
We laugh in ways we would not laugh otherwise. We make a mess, we make mistakes, even our dog Henry gets in the mix (he eats A LOT of the food based materials unfortunately hehe). The whole experience of sensory play is useful for BOTH the adult and the child- by keeping us both mindfully connected, present and joyous.
Sensory play will always get my vote for its multitude of cognitive benefits, but the real good stuff in my opinion, is its ability to create connection for adult and child. So go on, get messy and set up some sensory play for your children. You may just find it brings you together in ways you didn’t expect.
Happy Playing! 🙂