Sensory integration refers to the way in which we receive and integrate input from the various senses: touch, taste, smell, hearing, vision and movement. The way in which we respond to these sensory stimuli, manifests in our unique sensory profile.
Each one of us has a sensory profile, and although there are no right or wrong profiles, sometimes, sensory sensitive people experience difficulties dealing with various sensory input. This impacts on functioning in the classroom, (attention and concentration difficulties, sitting posture, writing and following of instruction difficulties), home life (fussy eating, sleep difficulties, resistance to dressing or bathing), and social and emotional well-being (outbursts, stubbornness, avoidant behaviour.)
Parents can assist children to cope with the sensory rich world we are living in (bustling shopping centres, traffic jams, parties etc.) better if they are empowered by sensory smart strategies aimed at helping to reduce embarrassing moments like tantrums, meltdowns, clinginess, avoidance, acting out, aggressiveness, etc.
Fine motor coordination is the coordination of the small muscles in the hands and fingers, which are essential for school related tasks in all age groups. In pre-primary school this includes cutting, pasting, drawing, colouring, finger painting, building block constructions and beading. In primary school, it relates to writing skills.
An adequate pencil grip impacts on the child’s pace of work, quality of end product and endurance. What games can I play or activities can I initiate in order to encourage fine motor coordination in my child?
Including practical ideas into your routine for example during bath time, when cooking or baking or when doing chores around the house aimed at strengthening the hand and finger muscles will help fine motor control develop. There are a lot of books, websites and other resources that you can use to give you ideas for fine motor activities.
Primarily a child’s age plays a large role in deciding whether the child should go through to Grade One. However, there are specific fine motor, gross motor, visual-perceptual and sensory developmental milestones, which need to be in place before a child can be expected to cope with the Grade One environment. Added to this a child’s social-emotional development plays a large role in their school readiness.
Children in Grade R are evaluated by their teachers and sometimes other professional members of the support team, i.e. Remedial therapists, Occupational Therapists, Psychologists etc. to ascertain whether they measure up to the abovementioned age-related standards and norms.
In a technologically advanced world, children tend to spend a lot of their free time playing computerised games and watching television. Although this is aiding certain areas of development it shouldn’t be to the detriment of other skills. This is especially a year during which children should engage in outside play, imaginary play and construction. Children need to explore using all their senses in order to learn about their world and their bodies.