29 January 2023
Sensory classes are not just for babies. There are classes for toddlers up to 5. Sensory activities can even help teenagers with movement and mindfulness exercises can help them focus.
Light, sound and movement all feature in sensory classes. Children are encouraged to engage with the world in a way that expands their motor skills, language development and problem-solving abilities. Classes help emotionally by improving social skills as the children interact with one another.
Language skills are developed by teachers talking about what toddlers encounter at the class. The textures, shapes and colours of objects are all described. Movements are also named as the children climb, roll and slide around. If there is a theme the movements can be described imaginatively with words like creeping, whizzing and leaping. By practising this kind of movement the connection to the word is made in the brain.
Motor skills are developed in sensory classes by providing equipment to move on and over. Physical activity ranges from bouncing on inflatables to climbing up a slide. Toddlers increase their spatial awareness and also learn about personal space by encountering one another. Minor motor skills are developed through handling smaller objects of different sizes and textures. Squeezing, pushing, pulling and throwing are all motor skills that can be improved.
Emotionally sensory activities can be very calming so are very beneficial for high-energy children. Running fingers through dried rice or pouring water helps children focus on the present, the feel or sound of a material. It can soothe anxious children. Kinesthetic learning is hands-on so helps fidgety children.
Older toddlers become more independent by learning problem-solving skills at sensory classes. For example, when faced with an obstacle they can figure out how to climb over it. This helps them develop confidence in their own abilities. They learn to be curious about the world rather than insecure and unsure because they have encountered a variety of objects and situations. They can learn the properties of different materials, for example how to stick sand together by making it damp.
Children benefit from the social interaction at sensory classes. They might develop new relationships around a water table. They can learn to work as a team while building with sand. They sing together. The welcoming and goodbye songs make them feel part of the group and learn social rituals and manners.
Imagination and creativity are stimulated at sensory classes. A themed class will place the child in a new environment. A pirate theme, for example, will enable them to explore the concept of water and boats and islands. Themes inspire scenes in which the children can play a character or be an animal. They can explore accents and sounds that creatures make. Older children can take a scientific approach observing things, forming a theory and experimenting with objects to see what they feel like or what sounds they produce. They take note of colour and shape.