The Importance of Sensory Play

Have you ever wondered how playing with your baby or toddler can impact their performance at school in the future?

The below diagram of a tree may help you to visualise what is happening with your little one’s development. It is important that, just like a tree, the “root” (or foundation) skills need to be watered and developed first so that the rest of the tree can grow healthy and strong. These sensory systems (touch, smell, taste, hearing, sight, movement and body position sense) are the basis of all other development and require constant input as your amazing baby grows and develops. As we move up the trunk of the tree (postural security, awareness of two sides of the body, motor planning, body scheme and reflex maturity) the development of the skills becomes slightly more complex. If there are strong, healthy roots, then the trunk skills will have a stable base to build on and should develop with opportunity and practice. The branches (ocular motor control, eye-hand coordination, attention, auditory and language, visual perception, spatial perception and postural adjustment) are the next level of development and can only progress well when built on the strong roots and trunk skills of the tree. The final stage is the fruit of the tree (self care tasks, behaviour and academic learning) and these are the skills your child is measured and tested on. They are the product of all that’s below them. Just as a tree that is not watered has shallow roots or an unhealthy trunk that will not bear fruit, so too a child that does not have strong foundational skills will not be able to attain the more complex academic, social and emotional skills expected of them. For example, maturity of the touch system (root level) enables better motor planning ability (being able to plan and execute a purposeful movement) which is a trunk skill. This is important for eye-hand coordination (a branch) which in turn enables the development of writing skills for academic learning (fruit). In other words, input at the root level can have an impact all the way up the tree to the fruit.

Making sure you spend some time each day providing Sensory Play opportunities for your baby/toddler will help them to form firm foundations on which to build more complex skills as they grow and develop.

Play is your child’s “work” and it is the way he learns best. JumpLeapFly will be hosting a one day workshop together with Training for Life which will cover both Sensory Play as well as Baby/Toddler CPR and First Aid – the PlaySafe Workshop. This will be an interactive workshop with loads of sensory activity ideas for you to do at home with your little one. Presented by professionals in these fields you will also have the opportunity to ask questions and try out many of the practical aspects of the workshop. We would love you to join us! Please visit www.FaceBook.com/JumpLeapFly for more information and to book for the next workshop.

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