The reason we first started exploring sensory play with our toddler, is because of the many learning benefits it presented through play. In order to fully benefit from sensory play, you’ll need to know about the many benefits of this type of play. Here are ten benefits of sensory play that your child will experience when engaging in this activity regularly.
1) Develops fine motor skills
Playing with sensory toys is a great way to develop fine motor skills in young children. Manipulating and exploring these toys requires a child to use her fingers, hands, and wrists. Over time, playing with these kinds of toys helps kids gain dexterity and improves hand-eye coordination. There’s also evidence that using play dough or clay can help improve hand-eye coordination in school-aged children.
2) Promotes social interaction
Imagine a child is playing with a ball. She passes it to her friend, who makes eye contact with her, smiles and laughs as he throws it back. The process repeats many times during their play time together. Not only are they enjoying each other’s company, but sensory play provides an opportunity for them to communicate and interact in ways that can positively affect their social skills down the road.
3) Encourages creativity
playing with toys that focus on different senses often results in children using those senses to create new things. Encourages fine motor skills: If a child is coloring with crayons, they’re going to have to use their fingers and hands to do so. And that leads to improved fine motor skills. Encourages social skills: because kids are learning how to share, work together, and communicate through sensory play, it helps them learn how to be more collaborative as they grow older.
4) Increases gross motor skills
Exploring your environment through movement and play is essential to your child’s physical development. One study found that children who engaged in sensory play had greater motor skills than those who didn’t. This included better coordination, balance, endurance, and even a reduction in clumsiness. Why are gross motor skills so important?
5) Encourages language development
Using materials that are tactile and make a variety of noises, you can help your child develop vocabulary and express themselves verbally. It’s easy to use ordinary household items for sensory play! While it doesn’t have to cost anything, you can also buy lots of equipment specially designed for sensory play.
6) Aids speech development
Many children have delays in speech and language development. By exposing your child to sensory play you are helping to improve their ability to express themselves and understand how others feel, which improves language skills. If your child is not interested in talking at all, sensory play may be an ideal way for them to learn communication.
7) Improves memory recall
When you touch, smell, see, hear and taste different things your brain remembers them better. This is because our brains are wired to recognize patterns, so if your senses are engaged with a variety of stimuli at once you’ll be more likely to process and retain that information in your memory.
8) Increases cognitive function (thinking skills)
Kids’ brains are like little sponges, and sensory play is a great way to keep them sharp. In fact, young children learn better through hands-on activities than they do by watching or listening. Through sensory play, kids can explore their environments by interacting with different textures, colors and smells. This stimulation has been shown to stimulate neurons in young minds that aid in language acquisition and basic math skills as well as increase impulse control and attention span.
9) Develops sensory awareness
One of sensory play’s greatest benefits is its ability to help children become more aware of their surroundings. How can something as simple as modeling dough or dripping water help a child develop his or her senses? Through repetition, kids will start to see how objects act and react with each other; for example, if you always pour water on a ball and watch it roll away, your child will begin to learn that liquids have mass and solid objects don’t.
10) Reduces stress levels in children
When children are stressed out, they’re more likely to act out in front of their parents. By engaging in sensory play, kids can burn off some steam and avoid further stress that could take a toll on their health and well-being. Thus, sensory play can help both children and parents alike to reduce stress levels. If you have been trying to find new ways to soothe your child, try letting them engage in some light but creative play with blocks or clay. Your child might even come up with an amazing new creation that will make him or her smile; thusly reducing his or her anxiety and prompting an active relaxation response from his or her body.
If you are new to sensory play its important to remember that it takes time to learn how to play messy. If you are not sure if sensory play is for you, have a look at our exploration kits, these are perfect for beginners!