Sensory play and wellbeing: It’s all connected - Step4
Sensory play and wellbeing It’s all connected

Sensory play and wellbeing: It’s all connected

Sensory play has become a big part of a child’s theory classes, to DIY activities at home, there is a greater awareness these days about the benefits of sensory play for children.

Why is sensory play important?

Sensory play is a form of learning that encourages exploration, creativity and problem solving. It’s open-ended and, when using age-appropriate resources, is beneficial for all age groups.

The benefits of sensory play are clear, but what about its connection to wellbeing? Can sensory play contribute to an improved sense of social, emotional and physical wellbeing in children? We certainly think so!

Social wellbeing

Early learning is undeniably one of the best ways for children to develop their social skills. They’re around other children all day, learning to interact with other personalities, learning to share and play collaboratively. Adding a sensory play element into these everyday interactions can help to enhance social wellbeing. Some ideas for group sensory play include:

  • Water play: Adding in elements such as flowers, sand to enhance the sense of touch. Children can experience cause and effect by splashing each other, working together to build sand sculptures
  • Mealtime: While this isn’t directly play-related, consuming food and drink is a sensory experience, and best shared with others. For older children, lay out a variety of foods. Encourage the children to talk amongst themselves about what they think of the food and the different tastes, smells and textures. This not only benefits their willingness to explore new foods and appreciate the variety of foods they can eat, but their willingness to share in experiences with their peers.

Emotional wellbeing

Emotional wellbeing is so important in a child’s early years. Learning to navigate emotions and ‘big feelings’ helps to develop emotional intelligence and an understanding of the many emotions we’re capable of feeling.

Having a dedicated area or specific activities designed to regulate emotions and create a sense of calm is an ideal way to assist with a child’s emotional wellbeing. This could include:

  • Lights: Whether you choose light panels, light-up bricks or something simpler such as fairy lights, lighting captures attention, is a visual stimulation tool and allows children to release some of the negative emotions they may be experience by paying full attention to what’s in front of them.
  • Textures: Squishy, soft, rough, silky are just some of the textures you could include in sensory activities. Including a variety of textures in something as simple as a washing basket or cardboard box is again a way to capture attention and bring about a sense of calm as children describe what they’re touching and how each item differs. Activities like this don’t encourage children to ignore their emotions – they’re simply a tool to distract, centre them and help them to look at the bigger picture.

If you’re looking for a unique textural experience, these Liquid Floor Tiles will be loved by all.

Physical wellbeing

Promoting physical wellbeing can be as simple as a walk outdoors, allowing each child to have some incidental exercise and engage with exploratory play. There are so many sensory experiences outside such as the breeze, the feeling of the grass, leaves, dirt and bark, as well as the sounds of birds and any other noises you may have around your early learning centre.

This wide range of sensory experiences in such an open setting while also moving their bodies, is the perfect recipe for encouraging physical wellbeing.

So, there you have it. Promoting wellbeing in your early learning centre doesn’t necessarily have to mean intentional activities such as group exercise or team building. Sensory play is the perfect way to utilise existing resources and activity plans to support children in confidently creating a sense of self and general wellbeing.

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