Sensory Integration

November 12, 2012

Sensory Integration

Children learn best through using all of their five senses – therefore when choosing educational toys it is important to consider sensory integrationand how certain toys may develop or improve this skill. sensory integrationrefers to how we use the information provided by all the sensations coming from within and without the body and for most of us it is something we develop and have unconsciously. Among other things children learn during play they will learn how to solve problems, develop social skills, enhance and master living skills as well as fine tune their motor skills. Educational toys are especially important in helping children to discover their environment, to build and develop creativity as well as laying the best possible foundation for success when starting school.

Sensory integration will mean the development of physical skills – motor skills are developed through running, jumping, skipping etc as well as through colouring, writing, handling objects etc. Increased dexterity will develop alongside these things. The development of language and thinking things out is another important aspect of the development sensory integration- learning to solve problems through play, improving attention span and memory – these things are all developed and improved upon during play and as children use educational toys they will then move onto higher levels of sensory integration and thought process. Important life skills are learned with the development of language skills and our sensory integrationskills will improve accordingly – listening to others, knowing when to pause, cooperation, story or joke telling, taking turns and negotiating are all important skills made easier by our sensory integration.

Good use of educational toys will enable children to develop a sense of emotional well being as well as good social skills – they will discover the desirable responses during game play and conversation – a natural consequence of this process is learning the rules and roles of society. When finding good educational toys for your child it is important to remember some key points -

  • Toys should challenge and interest a child. Solitary and social play are both necessary to a child’s development.

  • What developmental stage is the child at? A child of one year old or less is learning about his environment with all five senses as well as discovering ‘cause and effect’. So will be fascinated by mobiles, stacking toys, noise makers.

  • A toddler will be moving around much more and will be beginning to show interest in manipulation and solving problems – puzzles, stacking and threading toys, movement are all useful at this stage.

  • Pre-schoolers are beginning to learn to share and take turns, they want to play with others during this stage we may begin to see the inclusion of dressing up and role play, story books and simple board games.

  • By the time the child begins to attend school he or she will be looking for new challenges and experiences, he may be greatly influenced by his peer group and will want to take part in group activities, at this time more physical activity may also begin to be enjoyed – bike riding, roller skating etc. More challenging board games, memory games, building and construction kits will all appeal to all five senses and again develop the child’s sensory integration skills.

  • The older, pre-teen, has learned how to share and take turns, is becoming independent yet still enjoys and desires to play with other children, these children have now developed advanced social skills and will enjoy card and board games, model and science kits, a higher degree of difficulty puzzles and jigsaws.

These guidelines show us the importance of considering Sensory Integration when choosing toys – toys which should be suitable to age, skill and ability as well as challenging the child. Toys should be chosen which will stimulate creativity, encourage imagination, hold the child’s interest, teach communication skills – giving the opportunity to use and improve social skills, coordination and motor skills, thinking and learning skills. Above all toys should be fun and beneficial to the child, safe to use and well made.

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