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The benefits of Sensory Play

Sensory play is specifically designed to stimulate children’s senses. These experiences are essential for healthy brain development & important to develop & strengthen sensory processing capabilities.

Reading instructions from a whiteboard whilst in a noisy classroom can be overwhelming. A child with well-integrated sensory processing will find this kind of task less straining & easier to achieve.

Although Pinterest & Instagram are full of beautiful (& seemingly unattainable!) sensory play ideas, it’s actually very simple to do at home. All kinds of play have the potential to become a sensory activity.

By taking objects already around the house you can create many fun experiences for you & your child:

-️ feed a ribbon through the holes of a colander

- let your child play in a container of dried pasta while you cook dinner

Not that we needed another excuse to engage in some plain old-fashioned fun - sensory play has many benefits for child development, including:

🔅Cognitive development

Sensory play helps developing brains establish & strengthen neural pathways. New & frequent experiences create connections that improve a child’s ability to engage in complex learning activities.

🔅Encourages trying new foods

Research shows that regular messy play increases children’s willingness to try new foods. Fruits & vegetables are prone to changing, either due to ripening or as a result of how they’re cooked. Playing & feeling the natural textures of fresh foods allows children to explore their changing nature, giving them the confidence to then try them at the dinner table.

🔅It’s inclusive

There’s no right or wrong way to engage in sensory-rich play & as such it’s particularly useful for children with different learning/thinking styles, multilingual children or those with special needs.

🔅Exploration & creativity

Hands-on, self-directed play encourages discovery & development. It supports scientific thinking by requiring experimentation, hypothesising, researching & investigating outcomes.

References: Coulthard & Sealy 2017; Bishop 2014

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