When T was just a week old, I started sensory play with her. I would gently tickle her feet with a feather, ring a tiny bell very softly near her ears, move a black and white face cut-out in front of her, and lift her up and down in my arms ever so slowly. Oh, and I also made her smell vanilla.
I did that with her for about a month or so before moving on to other fun things. I rolled a ball for her eyes to follow, made her kick and punch soft rattles, and called her name from different parts of the room to see if she would look at the source of the sound.
I have to admit that I wasn’t as conscientious when Little Sir came, because honestly, who has the time to do all that with two kids? 🙂 But really, I want to do it all over again with my third little one (coming soon!), and have my two older babies help me out.
But why would I even want to do that?
Contrary to popular belief that little babies just sleep, nurse and poop all day, our little angels actually have alert moments during their sleep-and-wake cycle. From birth, in these moments, they are busy observing and learning about the world around them through what is natural and immediately available to them – their senses.
Sensory play has a critical role in brain development. It is through their senses that children learn and their neural pathways are strengthened. Neurons that are not used often disappear, according to Marian Diamond, PhD in the book “Magic Trees of the Mind”, and must therefore be properly stimulated.
Sensory play can be called the foundation for learning and is very important in early childhood. It is our job to introduce the world to our children in a way that they can understand in their early years.
So much more
Taking care of our children is, as Johnson’s Baby puts it, “so much more” than just giving them a bath, changing their diaper, and giving them food. Every interaction we have with our kids is an opportunity for them to learn through their senses.
I touch on this topic in our parenting workshop “You Are Your Child’s First and Best Teacher.” In it, I teach all the neat tips and tricks that I’ve learned as a U.S. licensed Kindermusik educator and from my own private learning sessions on early childhood development courtesy of my older sister, a child psychiatrist. 😉
But since we don’t have a scheduled live run of this workshop this year yet, you can get inspiration and ideas about sensory play every week on our Facebook and Instagram accounts starting today. In fact, we have just shared a list of sensory activities to develop your child’s sense of touch. These are much like the activities that I do with my own kids!
Together with Johnson’s Baby, I invite you to join us in advocating sensory play in early childhood. Share your own photos of your kids involved in sensory play with the hashtags #somuchmore #playforreal and #sensoryplay over at our Facebook page to inspire other parents to include this very important kind of play in their own homes.