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sensory play

-by Maria Gibbs (OSHC Co-Ordinator - Skippy's The Range, Rockhampton)

From birth to early childhood, children use their senses to explore and make sense of the world around them. They do this by hearing, moving, seeing, smelling, tasting, and touching – using their senses.

Children (and even adults) learn best and retain the most information when they engage their senses.

Many of my favourite memories are associated with one or more of my senses says Maria Gibbs, our OSHC Co-Ordinator at our The Range centre situated in South Rockhampton. “The smell of sunscreen reminds me of summers at the beach or seeing marshmallows reminds me of toasty winter campfires.” So in essence when your nose and eyes are stimulated with those familiar smells or sights, your brain triggers flashback memories of those special times.

Providing opportunities for children to actively use their senses is crucial to brain development because when a child is born, their senses aren’t fully developed, and they only develop over time when they explore the sensory world around them.

Sensory play forms an important part of all our programs at Skippy’s Early Learning centres because it facilitates exploration and naturally encourage children to use scientific processes while they play, create, investigate, and explore.

Let’s look at the benefits of sensory play to your child’s learning and development.

  • Sensory play builds nerve connections in the brain’s pathways, which leads to the child’s ability to complete more complex learning tasks.

  • Sensory play supports language development plus it stimulates social interaction.

  • It stimulates the development of fine and gross motor skills whilst helping them with cognitive growth.

  • It aids in developing and enhancing memory.

  • It helps children learn sensory attributes, such as hot, cold, sticky, dry etc.

  • Your child’s problem-solving and creativity skills are strengthened through sensory play.

  • It helps develop concepts like time and opposites like light and dark and sorting colours.

Most of all sensory play encourages learning through curiosity, creativity, exploration and problem solving. It helps to build nerve connections in the brain that encourage the development of language and motor skills, using multiple senses at the same time stimulates learning and language development, especially descriptive words. “At Skippy’s Early Learning we create countless experiences with different sensory activities to enable children to discover new things about themselves and their world every day because we strive to create environments that inspire children to be active participants in their learning” adds Maria the VayCare Co-Ordinator at our Skippy’s The Range branch in Central Queensland.

Sensory play is an important part of all early learning programs at Skippy’s Early Learning centres

and can suit both indoor and outdoor environments. The outdoor environment provides a vast wealth of freely available experiences to promote your child’s senses. It’s also more suited to messy play. Nature play, water play , sand play and mud play are all types of outdoor sensory activities and are a great way to incorporate learning for children. So mum and dad, next time you want to shriek because your child is covered in mud or sand, remember that not only did this have so many positive development opportunities but it was also great fun for them 😊


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