The Importance of Sensory Play for Kids, A Montessori Approach
The idea of sensory play dates back to Maria Montessori’s work in 1912. Long before senatorial play was practiced, Dr. Montessori believed that kids learned through experiencing their surroundings. Montessori sensory play is important because it allows kids to begin to classify their environment; hot or cold, big or small, smooth or rough. Using Montessori methods there are eight different senses recognized.
A holistic perspective is fundamental to Montessori pedagogy and sensory play helps address the whole child. Visual, auditory, olfactory (smell), and gustatory (taste) are included in Montessori sensory play. These senses allow kids to create building blocks and context for future learning.
There are four senses that are derived from touch. They each connect to a concept kids can begin to classify by using their hands. Tactile is what we commonly think of, the sense of touch. Montessori practices tactile learning mostly through the hands as there are so many nerve endings and our hands play such an important role in how we function within our surroundings.
Baric is recognizing the difference in weight and pressure an object may have. Baric senses allow a child to learn that a feather has little to no mass. Older kids will begin to take away ideas that a grain of sand is light but a cup of sand is heavy.
Thermic sensory play begins to introduce the classification of hot and cold. It is a concept that can be taught at a very early age.
Stereognostic is the recognition of muscle memory. It is what allows you to interact with an object through only touch. Reaching into a closet without looking and pulling out the correct jacket or reaching into your purse and pulling out your phone. Generally, senses are to be explored in isolation according to Montessori pedagogy but in particular stereognostic skills must be taught with the absence of sight or auditory sense.
The development of all these senses is what allows kids to function in the world around them. They develop important vocabulary words to describe their environment and benefit from the cognitive development that comes with exploring their senses. Their understanding scaffolds off of the constructs they create through sensory play. What begins as a simple idea when kids are younger develops into scientific and mathematical reasoning as kids get older.
Researchers show that sensory play extends past your child’s toddler years. That sensory play becomes more sophisticated. It teaches the science and mathematical skills or gives them a place to help regulate their emotions. Whether your big kid is learning to understand how kinetic sand works or theories about gravity it satisfies the need for tactile learning. In Montessori pedagogy kids are encouraged to maintain manipulates until kids are confident in their understanding of mathematical and scientific concepts.
Montessori systems are known for their ability to foster not just academic growth but social and emotional growth as well. Sensory play can be an important part of that emotional education. Sensorial play can simply slow the world down and create a positive place to take a time out or it can act as a transition back to a flow state where kids are engrossed in their activity. Awareness of the benefits of using natural aromas is on the rise. Aromatherapy is a great way to help ease anxiety, reduce stress, and increase focus.
Sensory activities are an important part of kids learning to be aware of his or her environment, learning order, developing vocabulary, and constructing the beginnings of many complex concepts. It can provide them with important tools to lean on during their emotional development. Sensory play can provide wonderful social opportunities. Explore a variety of sensorial applications to ensure your kid, young or old is exposed to all the great benefits offered through sensory play.