Engaging your child’s senses is a great way to build brain connections and for your child to learn about their environment and how they can interact with it. One question that I often hear is “what can I do to engage my child’s senses?” It can seem like an overwhelming task for parents to engage their child’s senses in a way that feels beneficial. It is quite simple though. There are just three things to keep in mind when developing sensory activities.
First, you want to be mindful of your child’s responses to the activity. Are they trying to avoid the activity or are they really into it and seem to be enjoying it. Kids display sensory defensive and sensory seeking behaviors. Defensive behaviors are things they do to reduce or avoid the sensory input such as when something is too loud, they will cover their ears. Seeking behaviors are when they actively try to engage a specific sense. For instance, if your child likes to spin, flip, or hang upside down. Knowing what your child likes and does not like can help you determine what sense to focus on and how to do it. Second, use activities as teaching tools. You can teach many concepts from the senses such as size, temperature, volume, and even social skills. Think about engaging the sense of sight to help teach your child about personal space using a hula hoop. Finally, keep the activity simple. Many sensory activities can engage more than one sense but focusing on one or two can help to organize things for your child. If you are doing a water activity focus on the sense of touch so they can make connections about what water feels like.
Sensory activities are so beneficial but can be overwhelming when considering all the ideas that are out there. Being mindful of three things can help make creating a sensory activity at home helpful for your child’s specific sensory needs.