Since becoming a parent I have realised that it is very easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of things that we are responsible for teaching our children. From sensory stimulation to gross motor development and everything in-between, it is sometimes difficult to even know where to start. Well, we can start by choosing one thing at a time and trying our best.
Today I decided to try out a little sensory stimulation with my children. Occupational Therapist Kelly Westerman advises: “Children live in a world where their sense are constantly taking in information from their environment. Perception is the process where the brain takes in sensory information received from the sensory organs and processes the information in order to make sense of it. The brain then plans and executes responses, which may be physical or emotional in nature. The more children are exposed to different sensory inputs the more they develop their perceptual skills. This process over time is how children learn to do everything from crawling, running, jumping, climbing, reading, writing and how to feel comfortable within their own bodies in relation to the rest of the physical world. This process begins while an infant is still in utero and continues for their whole lifetime.”
Now, there is no need to freak out and worry about how to stimulate your children’s senses. It doesn’t need to be complicated and there are many simple, quick and easy activities that you can do right at home. One of my favourite activities is the sensory bin.
What you need:
• Big, plastic tub
• Some shredded paper (I had a whole lot left from some package deliveries that I keep)
• A selection of small toys and objects from around the house (a variety of sizes and textures is ideal)
• A blindfold (optional, although it does help with peeping)
Simply fill up your big plastic tub with the shredded paper and hide all your toys in it.
My two year old was especially excited to be blindfolded and didn’t need any encouragement to start fishing around for toys. Each time one of my girls found an object I asked them to tell me if it was hard or soft, big or small, cold or warm and then finally what it was.
Blindfolding your little ones is a really good way to get them to rely on their other senses to identify objects and is a huge step towards helping them develop their perceptual skills. See, I told you it was easy.
After we were done with our sensory tun I decided, as an extra, to give my little ones a completely different experience. I had some of those jelly, ball things (I actually have no idea what they are called) and I decided to put them in a glass bowl and let my little girl fish around and feel them. I thought that they were already big but when I opened up the pack I see that they are the kind that grow overnight (yes, I know it says so on the pack, missed that one). Still, it was worth a try.
I must be honest, I haven’t ever felt them myself and so I was probably just as curious as they were. They felt like I would imagine fish eyes would feel like. Slimy, cold and very odd! In fact, the feeling couldn’t have been more different than the sensory tub we had just been busy with. Now we just have to wait for them to finish growing overnight and I can imagine they will be even more slimy! Sensory win for mom!
Stimulating your children’s senses is crucial to their development and I encourage you to look around your home and introduce your little one to objects of different size, shape, colour, temperature, weight and texture. It doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive and can end up being a lot of fun.