Do you know childcare centers can help develop your child’s sensory motor skills? Yes – they certainly can. Every child develops sensory and motor skills at a different rate and at slightly different times. That’s why Perfect Angels Learning Center curriculum engages children in a variety of age-appropriate sensory motor activities.
Some young children struggle to acquire these skills; they can have trouble in figuring out exactly where their bodies are in relation to everything around them or moving objects with their fingertips. Thus, if you feel your child’s sensory and motor skills need a little extra help, this article is for you.
However, before delving fully into this topic’s frequently asked questions and their answers, let’s look at what is meant by sensory skills and motor skills.
What are Sensory Skills?
Sensory skills simply involve using the senses of hearing, vision, smell, touch, taste, vestibule (for balance and head position in space), proprioception (information from the muscles and joints), and balance. Basically, these senses are responsible for receiving information and work together for overall sensory functioning.
What are Motor Skills?
Motor skills are the actions and movement of the muscles. Typically, they are divided into two groups: Gross motor skills that require the use of large muscle groups to perform tasks such as walking, crawling, and balancing, and Fine motor skills that require the use of small muscle groups to facilitate holding a pen or toy.
What is the Sensory and Motor Development of Infants?
The sensory and motor development of infants is a gradual process by which they gain use and coordination of the large muscles of the legs, trunk, and arms, and the smaller muscles of the hands. They also begin to experience new awareness through touch, sight, smell, hearing, and taste.
Sensory Development of Infants
The sensory development of a baby generally follows this typical pattern:
- Hearing. At 1 month of age, babies strongly prefer hearing human voices. Subsequently, they tend to recognize the voice of their caregiver (even if they are in another room). At two months old, babies begin to laugh and make sounds like ooh and ahh. By the age of 4-5 months, babies often entertain themselves by babbling and begin to understand that tone of voice means different things. At 7 months, babies start copying the sound they hear spoken – they may not be able to say the words they hear yet but they can understand many of the words you say. At 12 months old, they’re likely to say their first word.
- Vision. At one month of age, babies find it difficult to see what is afar; they can only see what’s directly in front of them. As a result, they love looking at the human face and bright contrasting colors. Within a couple of months, they can easily follow a toy or other objects when it is moved in front of their face. Subsequently, a baby’s vision is the same as an adult’s vision at 7 to 12 months of age.
- Smell and taste. Babies of all ages tend to develop a good sense of smell and taste. This is why they can easily know the smell of their mother’s breast milk. Consequently, babies between 9 to 12 months of age love to experience and explore objects through taste and texture. Hence, this is what prompts them to put almost anything they can into their mouth.
- Touch. Babies of all ages often prefer soft, gentle touches, and cuddles. As a result, they can cry when they’re not being held properly because they have a well-developed sense of touch.
Motor Development of Infants
The motor development of a baby generally follows this typical pattern:
- At 1 month of age, your baby cannot control his or her neck movement because the neck muscles aren’t developed enough to support the neck for a prolonged period. However, newborn reflexes begin to fade and the baby’s strength and coordination improve at 2 months of age.
- At 3 months of age, babies can control their head movement. Additionally, this is the stage where your baby starts playing with his or her hands and grasp your finger on purpose, rather than as a reflex.
- Babies’ balance and movement dramatically improve between 4 to 6 months of age. During this time, babies may grasp at toys with their palms or reach towards an object with both hands.
- Between 7 to 9 months of age, babies gain more control of their muscles. During this time, some babies might be able to pull themselves into a standing possible; however, the timing and sequence of these milestones vary greatly.
- Around 9 to 12 months is usually the stage where babies can crawl, stand, or even walk (in some cases).
- Most babies start walking around 9 to 15 months of age. This first step is possible due to the changes that have taken place in the nervous system (brain and spinal cord).
How Does Sensory Play Help A Child’s Development?
Giving children the opportunity to actively use their senses as they explore their world through ‘sensory play’ is highly important. As a result, it helps children complete more complex learning tasks and support gross motor skills, language development, cognitive growth, among several others.
Therefore, here are the top reasons why sensory play helps a child’s development:
- Sensory play supports cognitive growth, problem-solving skills, social interaction, fine and gross motor skills, and language development.
- It helps to enhance and develop children’s memory.
- Sensory play is great for calming children with anxiety.
- Children can be able to learn sensory attributes (cold, hot, dry, sticky)
How Can You Encourage Motor Development in a Childcare Setting?
No doubt play is crucial to every child’s gross and fine motor skills development. Therefore, childcare providers can support the motor development of young children by planning play activities that provide children with regular physical activity opportunities.
Gross Motor Development Activities
Childcare providers can help children develop their gross motor skills by providing opportunities for them to:
- Push and pull
- Dump and fill
- Throw and catch etc.
Also, remember that gross motor development can also take place inside the house. A ride-on-car, pull toy, or crawling tunnel are activities that encourage gross motor development.
Fine Motor Development Activities
Childcare providers can help children develop fine motor skills by planning activities that enhance their fine motor skills. Some of these activities include:
- Puzzles with varying size knobs
- Shared reading
- Drawing and painting
- Create greeting cards
- Create placemats crafts etc.
Among the fine motor skills your child will perfect at Perfect Angels Learning Center are the abilities to:
- Use pencils and crayons well to paint and draw
- Clap hands
- Complete puzzles with over 5 pieces
- Button and unbutton
- Copy or paste things onto paper
- Cut out simple shapes using safety scissors.
Benefits of Sensory Play for Children in a Childcare Setting
Young children love exploring their world through their senses. For example, each time they encounter something dry, wet, or sticky, they get a better understanding of the types of objects that have these characteristics.
Highlighted below are the benefits of sensory play for children:
As stated earlier, young children have a better understanding of what they come across through their senses. They learn how to identify the texture or smell of objects using their senses. Consequently, they begin to form a connection between things with similar characteristics.
For example, you can encourage children to explore new fruits and reflect on their own food experience by planning a fruit-tasting activity.
Improve Social Skills
Children notice how others use the same materials they play with during sensory play with their peers. Consequently, they interact with each other in the different ways in which they can use materials and together they discover new ways to hold, shape, move, or manipulate a substance or object.
Therefore, you should encourage sharing amongst children in a social setting because it improves young children’s social skills. Moreover, this will encourage them to make friends and have fun. So let them have fun!
Build Nerve Connections
Studies show that children actively use their senses in conjunction with one another to help build pathways between nerves in the brain. Therefore, when it comes to the importance of sensory play, this is very important – it lays the foundation for children to deal with more complex tasks, supports cognitive development, strengthens language development, and improves problem-solving skills.
Strengthens Fine Motor Skills
Sensory play activities often include actions such as touching, pouring, pinching, etc. As a result, children primarily use their hands to explore; building on their fine motor skills that will later be used to write, zip jackets, open a lunchbox, or tie shoes.
Furthermore, by discovering new tastes, smells, and textures through sensory play, children will discover new ways to describe the things they find in the world around them. For example, they begin to describe different food as salty, sweet, spicy, or crunchy. Rocks, as they feel, will be more than just rocks – now they will be smooth, rough, or perhaps cool to the touch.
Daycare Activities That Help Children Develop Their Sensory Motor Skills
As a childcare provider, you don’t have to do anything fancy nor buy expensive toys (in your daycare) to help children develop sensory motor skills. Most kids can practice and improve their sensory motor skills through play and normal activities. Thus, here are some daycare activities that can help children develop their sensory motor skills.
Drawing and Coloring
Every daycare must encourage children to practice their sensory motor skills by drawing with markers, colored pencils, crayons, etc. The drawings or paintings don’t have to be perfect – however, these activities are suitable for developing sensory motor skills.
Make and Play With Dough
As a childcare provider, you can encourage the children to make and play with dough because it enables them to practice with utensils. A good way to develop fine motor strength and coordination and give good practice for utensil use is to measure, stir, and mix all of the ingredients. Consequently, this would also help address children’s sensory or tactile sensitivity.
Toys and Games
Many toys and games help in developing sensory motor skills, including those for infants and toddlers. For instance, board games, as well as puzzles is ideal for developing fine motor skills in school-age children. Also, remote control cars are great options for preschoolers and elementary kids.
Make a Sensory Bin
All you need to make a sensory bin is a storage container (it can be as big or as small as you like). After creating a sensory bin, you can hide a variety of small toys in the bin for the children to find. Children can use tools such as spoons, forks, and trowels to find the toys hidden in the sensory bin. Consequently, this allows the child to try different texture with their hands and also develop self-feeding skills due to the use of utensils.
A Word From Perfect Angels Learning Center
When it comes to the development of your child’s sensory and motor skills, most of your child’s development will occur as they learn and play. However, you can help improve your child’s skills by choosing activities, games, and toys that support the development of sensory motor skills.
Parents who are looking for the best childcare center to help develop their child’s sensory motor skills can reach out to us now. We are one of the leading childcare centers in Clinton Maryland, providing safe space for children of any age to develop and grow. Our staff can help parents make the most important decisions for their child’s future. Schedule a tour of our facility or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.