From birth through early childhood, your little one is learning through using all of their senses — sight, sound, taste, touch, smell, and movement. In fact, there are many studies that show that both children and adults alike are more easily able to retain information when they engage their senses. With that in mind, we’ll take a look at the importance of sensory play in early childhood education.

At Adventures in learning, we are proud to offer the educational programs your little one needs during the preschool and Transitional-K years of learning. Our classes all feature a solid academic foundation with small class sizes, flexible scheduling, and excellent family communication. To learn more or schedule a free tour of our school, please contact Adventures in Learning in Orange today.

What Is Sensory Play?

Sensory play refers specifically to activities that are designed to stimulate one or more of a child’s senses. In the classroom, these tend to focus on touch, sight, and hearing. Sensory play helps to build nerve connections within the brain’s developing neural pathways, which trigger a child’s inclination to participate in more complex learning tasks. It supports a number of aspects of the developing child, including:

  • Language development
  • Cognitive growth
  • Fine and gross motor skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Social interactions
  • Memory function

The Importance of Sensory Play in Brain Development

As your child’s brain develops, it needs to build and strengthen the sensory-related synapses and functions. Over the course of a lifetime, the brain either adds or eliminates synapses based on experiences. This changing of neural pathways or synapses in order to rewire the way the brain functions is called neuroplasticity. Essentially, your child is able to develop proper sensory processing abilities through sensory play.

More Than the Five Senses

In addition to focusing on the five main senses, sensory play also helps children develop better body awareness and balance. Body awareness refers to the ability of our muscles, joints, and brain to communicate with one another to gain a sense of where our bodies are in space and how our bodies move. Children who are still learning body awareness may appear clumsy or uncoordinated. Balance is the ability of the inner ear to communicate our body position in relation to gravity. Comprehensive sensory play will attempt to engage your child’s five main senses, as well as their body awareness and balance.

Sensory Play and Language

As your child plays with a variety of textures, tastes, and objects, they will begin to build a larger vocabulary that enables them to talk about their world in new and more complex ways. For example, the tree becomes more than a tree. They can now refer to the smoothness or roughness of the bark, the smell of the leaves or needles on the trees, the size and shape of the leaves, and the noise the leaves make when the wind blows. Additionally, your child will learn more words as they taste different foods. They’ll be able to use and understand words like salty, sweet, tangy, and more.

Sensory Play and Feelings

Some children struggle with feelings of anxiety or fear about any number of situations. Sensory play is a great way to help them calm down and manage their discomfort. Many children become much calmer after bath time due to the warm water, bath toys, and scented soap. Other children calm down after a rough play time of running around the room, jumping around, or wrestling. While these two activities are quite opposite of one another, they both involve sensory play, which is the key to helping them process their discomfort and calm down.

Early Childhood Education

At Adventures in Learning in Orange, we work to incorporate sensory play into all of our educational curriculum. From our youngest preschool class to our transitional-K class, you can trust that your child will enjoy a variety of opportunities to engage all of their senses. Contact us today to learn more and schedule a free tour of our facility.