Simple activities like fingerpainting and playing with shaving cream have been popular with many young children for as long as most of us can remember. Some people may feel like these activities are "just for fun" or to keep little ones busy.
However, these types of sensory development activities are much more important than just keeping little ones out of trouble. These tasks actually help little ones' brains develop in ways that can help with future academic success. So, bring out those messy activities often!
You may not feel too excited to have to clean up all of the "learning" they will do, but it will be so very well worth it!
There has been a lot of research done on the topic of sensory issues and how it often relates to developmental struggles such as with autism. Now, I don't want to make you worried that if your child prefers to steer clear of getting his/her hands messy, that there will be developmental issues down the road - I definitely do not think it works that way.
However, from my many years of teaching and working with young children, I will say that it is indeed a phenomenon that I have observed over and over. Where a child with other developmental challenges typically has sensory issues. This has always interested me and is one of the reasons that I really like to work in sensory activities into our preschool. Even if a child will only touch the goo with one finger, that is a start.
I encourage all children to regularly engage in sensory activities, but I feel it is even more important for those children that have an aversion to it. For the children who like to avoid it, you will need to make it a "required" activity, as he/she will not choose it. Of course, try to make it as fun as possible, but do not make it optional. Even if they only will touch whatever it is with one finger!
The more experiences children can have with sensory activities, the more brain connections they can make in those areas, which may help in development and learning down the road. Once again, sensory issues do not directly indicate other developmental struggles, but most children with developmental issues do have sensory issues.
It's just one of those things that as a teacher, I have really found so very interesting over the years, and have done a bit of research on. There are some varying opinions about exactly what is related to or causes what, but that is not the purpose of this article.
I am not a doctor, and would encourage you to see one if you have any major concerns about your child.
In the mean time, get out that finger paint, buy some foamy shaving cream, make some oeey gooey Borax slime (for directions click here) and go play in the mud! Not only will it be fun for many children,, but it is also great for their brain development!!
We have made it a priority in our preschool classroom to include sensory rich activities on a regular basis as a non-choice activity so that all children get to experience them to their own level. Who knew making mud pies could make you smarter??
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