So, as parents, you may be thinking what your role is during Sensory Play...
Firstly, and most importantly, is safety. It is your job to make sure that your child is safe during play. Ensure that the items that you are using are safe – no sharp edges, broken parts etc. Think about where is best to carry out the Sensory Play. Will the floor become slippery if using messy ingredients? Do you need to lay an old towel down beforehand? Closely supervise your child so that they do not put small items, which may pose a choking hazard, into their mouth. This is especially important if you child is at the mouthing stage. Ensure that there is adequate space for the activity to take place. Children will need room to manoeuvre around the activity too. Encourage children to wash their hands after the activity.
Allow your child to take the lead with their play. You will be there to supervise them, but do not take over. Encourage them to talk about what they are doing. You can introduce new language such as descriptive vocabulary – soft, prickly, rough, smooth, mathematical vocabulary – long, short, empty, full and scientific vocabulary – solid, liquid, float, sink. You can suggest new ideas to develop the play further if you feel it is needed.
Time is a really important factor when it comes to Sensory Play. Give your child plenty of time to fully explore the activity so that they can become absorbed in their play. I often set an activity out and allow Emily to return to it several times throughout the day, or even the week. You’ll see that your child will probably find new ways to play each time.
Organisation is key to a successful play session. Think about what resources you would like to use and get them ready and to hand before introducing your child to the activity. I don’t always add everything at once. I often add utensils once Emily has begun to explore the main sensory item so to not overwhelm her. Additional tools and resources can then take the play in a different direction.
The best thing about Sensory Play is there is no right or wrong way to play. Watch your child and take their lead. You will be amazed at how many different ways they will be find to play.
Remember, all children are different. What one child may like, another may not. Don’t be concerned if your child doesn’t want to instantly touch and engage with the activity. Let them look and explore at their own speed. If your child doesn’t seem keen on a particular play resource, try again in a few weeks or months. They may have changed their mind the next time you try. Most of all have fun.
If you would like to share your play with me, please use #minisensesplay on your Instagram photos - I’d love to see what you get up to.