Sensory play is really as simple as it sounds. It is a kind of play that engages your children’s senses. From infancy and through the toddler years, children develop crucial neural connections and skills that are the foundation of all future learning. Sensory play builds cognitive skills and promotes language and speech development.
Speech Development Through Sensory Play at Home
If your child has sensory processing issues, sensory play at home is essential to their development. However, all children can strengthen their cognitive and language skills through sensory play. Chances are you already engage in sensory play with your child. Here are just a few great ways to build on that foundation.
1. Play Dough
You probably already have some play dough in your house, but you may not know how great it is for sensory play. You can purchase commercial dough or make your own. Just make sure you have a selection of bright colors.
As you and your child play with the dough, verbalize what you do to strengthen speech development and language skills. Tell your child to “roll the pink dough,” “squish the blue dough,” “make circles out of the yellow dough” or “pat the red dough.” Ask them to describe how the dough feels. While you’re playing, your child will be making invaluable neural connections both tactilely and verbally.
2. I Spy Games
Children have been playing I Spy for generations, and it is a wonderful sensory game to support visual learning, memory and speech development. Even young children can play this game if your prompts are basic, such as, “I spy with my little eye something round and blue.” Older children can respond to more complex prompts, and they can also lead the game, which requires them to use language to describe objects for you to guess.
3. Sensory Bins
A sensory bin is simply a large container that holds some kind of tactile filler. It can be sand, rice, dried pasta or even shredded paper. Depending on the age of your child, please be aware of any choking hazards when you choose your filler material.
You can hide objects in the filler and have your child sift through and find them. You can use the bin to identify basic concepts like shapes, colors and size, or you can use it for more complex purposes such as letter identification, spelling and simple math. The activity engages the child’s senses while fostering speech development and other cognitive skills.
Regular Evaluation of Speech Development
Your pediatrician does a basic assessment of sensory development at your child’s regular wellness checkups. Beyond your scheduled doctor’s visits, if you have concerns about your child’s auditory or speech development, be sure to reach out to a specialist for a professional assessment.
HEAR Center has been on the cutting edge of children’s auditory and speech development for nearly 70 years. Its founder, Dr. Ciwa Griffiths, developed the Auditory Approach that has helped countless children learn to overcome hearing and speech challenges. You can schedule an assessment for your child with the HEAR Center today.