For young children, exploration is critical to their development. One of the ways they explore the world is through their five senses.

At Child’s Play ELC, we play and engage through sensory play as much as we can because it has many benefits to a child’s physical development and emotional wellbeing. This is why we have dedicated sensory spaces in our services.

What is sensory play?

Sensory play includes any activity where our children actively use their five senses. This particular type of play facilitates exploration that is natural and only limited by our child’s imagination. We encourage sensory play because children are natural explorers wanting to see, taste, touch, smell and hear different things every day. When childcare centres have dedicated sensory spaces there are huge benefits to a child’s development and emotional wellbeing. In particular, we see improved cognitive development including improved focus, better regulation of emotions and a better understanding of their place in the world.

At our Tarneit facility, we have opted to change our multi-purpose room into a sensory space to further our children’s development and nourish their curiosity. Inside you will find a dynamic lighting design, lots of toys and chill-out zones.

Here are six key benefits to sensory play.

Benefits of sensory play

1. It’s Calming

For children, life can be very exciting and it is pretty easy to get agitated, anxious or overwhelmed. With sensory play, children can hone in on one specific activity which promotes mindfulness and centring their energy. Some of the ways we promote sensory play and mindfulness are through sensory jars, bubble machines, colourful rice and stackable boxes. By promoting mindfulness, children learn to live more in the moment and focus on what’s in front of them.

Another way we create a calm environment for our children is through a soft lighting design with calming music and minimal noise. This helps children take charge of their emotions and refocus their energy.

2. It’s Inclusive

All children are welcome in the sensory spaces. Children can shake, touch, smell, taste and stack all sorts of toys in this environment and this further promotes their critical thinking, problem-solving and creative skills.

One of the biggest benefits of sensory play is that it promotes intention-based social skills such as sharing, learning to have empathy and how to understand other emotions.

3. Develop Knowledge

Sensory play is self-directed, hands-on and explorative which helps children understand the world and develop their knowledge. These activities can also be self-interested activities which children take part in on their own to further develop their own skills and knowledge about themselves. These activities harness our curriculum in allowing children to direct their learning and create new ways of thinking.

4. Develops Motor Skills

Particularly in babies and toddlers, sensory play is critical to their gross and fine motor development as it encourages repetitive movements and for children to get up and about.

Being able to freely move and explore as well as taking time to chill out are also beneficial to a child’s emotional development. If they have a space to move to when they are stressed out, they are able to reintegrate into activities quickly and this learned behaviour will help your child actively destress in the future.

5. Cognitive development

Sensory play not only encourages exploration and helps develop motor skills but improves cognitive development as well. Through playing with sensory jars, calming music and colourful rice, children can develop longer attention spans and can more easily focus on one task at a time. This is a vital skill for a smooth transition into school.

6. Language Development

Finally, sensory play supports language development by encouraging the use of descriptive and different words. In a sensory space, our children will learn about different textures, colours and sounds. They will also develop assertive communication skills to tell others how they are feeling and demonstrate their ability to self-calm.

Considering childcare?

Childcare is a big step in your child’s life, and we want to help you choose the right place for your child. Sensory play is only one part of our curriculum, if you would like to know more, check out our ‘getting started’ section on our site or get in contact with our team about attending Child’s Play ELC.