From the moment your child is born, he or she is constantly using all five senses to explore and make sense of their surroundings. Sensory development enhances the use of your child’s senses by incorporating different colors, textures, noises, and more into their early education. This holistic learning process encourages children to play safely and engage with their surroundings as well as improve their brain development. From cooing family members to bustling coffee houses, babies and young children are frequently exposed to a variety of different people and environments. For a young child, all the unfamiliar sights, smells, and sounds can be overwhelming. Maybe even a little bit scary! That’s why it’s really important to incorporate sensory play into your child’s everyday routine to help them adapt to real-life situations and cope with changes in their environment. More importantly, teach your child how to enjoy their surroundings.
Why is "sensory development" important in early childhood ?
Aside from preparing your child for everyday encounters throughout their life such as trying different foods, getting new toys, or coming into contact with animals, sensory play is crucial for their brain development and cognitive growth.
In early childhood, children are aware and take in the environment around them when their senses are engaged. Sensory development goes hand in hand with other Early childhood education (ECE) activities such as physical development, expressive arts and design, and overall personal, social, and emotional development.
Sensory development should play a significant role in your child’s preschool experience, if not earlier, and should always be included in the curriculum of a childcare setting. These sensory reactions are often used to monitor milestones in early childhood development. For example, if your child doesn’t achieve these behavioral and physical checkpoints, it may be an indication that your child is having trouble processing and understanding their environment. In this instance, further tests and examinations could be carried out by a child psychologist in order to determine whether your child requires extra support.
Sensory development begins during gestation and continues throughout childhood. There are seven sensory processes: taste, smell, touch, hearing, seeing, body position sense (called proprioception), and movement sensations (called vestibular input). Below is a brief discussion of each sense, its purpose, and the stages of its development; how infants stimulate their senses; and why sensory stimulation is important for infants.
What are the five senses?
Several touch receptors make up the somatosensory system. The infant experiences the sense of touch by any direct contact with the skin. The sensory receptors for touch send messages to the brain, through neurons, concerning temperature, pain, and the texture and pressure of objects applied to the skin.
It is important for adults to understand what types of touch stimulation a specific child needs. For example, children who fall asleep only when rocked and like to be cuddled may prefer firm pressure against the body. One way to apply this pressure is by swaddling infants. This firm pressure relaxes excited neurons that are sending messages back and forth from the surface of the skin to the brain. Some Children are content to lie or sit and play in one spot; this does not mean that they are not as curious as other infants, but that they can absorb only so much stimulation at one time. By contrast, other infants who are constantly exploring by reaching out to touch various objects and textures are more likely to seek stimulation.
The visual system begins to develop around the ninth and tenth week of gestation and continues developing until three years after birth. At birth, children are able to detect motion, can focus on an object about eight inches away, are sensitive to brightness, and have red and green color vision. By the end of the second month, the child is able to track smooth pattern movements and begin to discriminate between colors. During the third month, the child is better and able to focus on objects farther away and is beginning to develop depth perception, both of which continue to develop until age two or three.
Eye training or visual tracking is an important pre-learning skill for you young children,
This helps in
1- Increased attention span
2- Cognitive Development
3- Visual Tracking of moving items
4- Eye muscle exercising.
The above mentioned is a brain cells activity.
The auditory system begins to develop next. Around the fifth week of gestation, the ear begins to form, and by the twenty-fourth week of gestation, all hearing structures are in place. By the end of gestation, the auditory system is reasonably mature and continues to develop throughout the first year after birth. Children demonstrate this sense by turning their heads or eyes toward a sound. Newborns are more likely to respond to higher frequencies than lower frequencies. Also, repetition and longer duration increase the likelihood of children’s hearing and responding to a sound. Adults can encourage infant stimulation through musical toys that use repetitive sounds and higher-pitched tones.
4 - TASTE and SMELL
In addition to hearing Taste and smell also take place during the same time.
Taste and smell are chemical senses; they process information by processing chemical changes in the air and in objects on the tongue. These are primitive sensory systems that are intimately involved with early developmental activities such as feeding, eating, and recognizing family members compared to strangers. In this way, these are protective senses; they enable the organism to survive, both through recognizing familiarity for safety purposes and by enabling the infant to identify food for nourishment.
This was all about sensory development . At braincells we have come up with stimulation activities for these 5 senses. To know more, register for the FREE Masterclass NOW! In the upcoming blog, we are coming up with recommended activities of sensory play for toddlers and children . Until then Take care. Happy parenting 🙂