The senses are a kind of reason. Taste, touch and smell, hearing and seeing, are not merely a means to sensation, enjoyable or otherwise, but they are also a means to knowledge – and are, indeed, your only actual means to knowledge. -St. Thomas Aquinas
Existence is full of experiences and humans are blessed with the senses to perceive and process everything around them.
As soon as a child is born he/she is capable of seeing, hearing, smelling, touching and tasting. It is a natural instinct in children to explore and experience the world around them using their five senses. This sensory diet provides nourishment to the brain through the new synaptic and neural connections they make with each stimulating experience.
Children must be allowed to follow their natural instincts and nurture their senses by engaging with the surroundings in different ways. Children have varied learning styles and by using their specific senses they expand their learning horizons thereby improving their retention. They tend to relate their experiences to the events and store them as memories in their brains, for example, they might associate a particular fragrance with a particular person. Allowing children to engage actively with their environment helps them to excel at more complicated tasks and also facilitates growth and development in domains like language, cognition, motor skills and socialization.
There is another hidden sixth sense apart from the sense of sight, smell, touch, hear and taste and that is called proprioception. Proprioception is the awareness of the position of our body in the space and also its movement. It helps our brain know when our body and limbs are in the space and how much effort we are using to move.
Including sensory activities helps the children to explore and encourages them to use scientific processes while playing, creating and experimenting. It helps their brain to create strong connections to process and respond to sensory stimulus. Research shows that new pathways are formed in the brain as the nerve connections are build up and it enhances the overall growth and development and improves the memory. Sensory activities help children to calm down, relax, engage, focus and learn better. They become more mindful when they apply all their senses. So, it is advisable to include more and more sensory experiences in the life of children so that they learn to respond better to the surroundings along with managing themselves better and naturally learning different skills including adaptation.
About the Author: Vinita Berry
Ms. Vinita Berry is the Founder of ‘Priceless Parenting with Vinita Berry’ (formerly, Spectrum, a multi-disciplinary clinic for specially-abled learners). Ms. Berry has successfully empowered thousands of parents to raise their children fruitfully, making them competent and happy learners.