Why your kids should enjoy sensory play

It's no longer restricted to controlled environments, and the benefits are for all kids to enjoy

Why your kids should enjoy sensory play
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In the past, sensory play meant staying within the boundaries of measurable results, hence keeping kids confined to certain environments and regulated play.

However, with global trends shifting towards free play, sensory activity proponents have now caught up. Experts are finally dismissing stagnant, old-school concepts for new and improved ways through which this type of play can be encouraged, all while giving kids the freedom to express themselves through sensory activities which heavily contribute to development.

“Sensory play builds nerve connections within the developing brain’s neural pathways, which trigger a child’s inclination for and ability to compete in more complex learning tasks,” says Dr Deepti Chaturvedi, paediatrics specialist at Burjeel Hospital, Abu Dhabi.

“It also enhances memory functions.”

This type of play also supports language development, cognitive growth, motor skills, problem-solving and social interaction.

“Play teaches kids to, well, play nice too. A mix of free and adult-guided play can help preschoolers be more aware of other people’s feelings,” adds Dr Chaturvedi.

Parents also support sensory play for it’s ability to calm an anxious or frustrated child, enhancing their positive experiences.

What parents need to remember, however, is that it’s important that kids learn to enjoy physical activity. They should be exercising regularly, but below a certain age simply playing is considered to be the best “exercise”.

“Avoid exercises that make the child feel inept or embarrassed. If they seem to enjoy an activity, that’s fantastic. If not, don’t force them,” she adds. “They should be able to feel accomplished.”

So, how do you encourage them to get moving? First of all, by helping them do it from an early age. Plus, kids need to focus on the fun aspect and spend time outdoors.

“Expose little ones to a wide variety of activities and sports, and build physical activity into your family’s daily routine. Show your kids how you’re physically active in your own life, too.” explains Dr Chaturvedi.

Make the time to get fit as a family – walk to the local park, go bike riding, join marathons or take the dog out for a stroll.

Validate “active play” by buying gifts that can get kids and teens up and moving, such as balls, bats, skipping ropes and other equipment – not electronic gadgets.

Get kids motivated towards playing whatever and whenever they can, in the backyard, dancing, riding a bike, running, swimming or playing at a kids’ gym.

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