At Baby College we talk a lot about sensory integration, but what is this and why is it important?
Sensory Integration was defined Jane Ayers as “The neurological process that organises sensation from one’s own body and from the environment and makes it possible to use the body effectively with the environment” (1972)
Which means how our bodies receive sensory information and then what it does with the information which allows us to function in our daily lives.
We have 8 senses: smell, sight, hearing, taste and touch and three others less talked about: proprioception (muscles and joints we use to control our movement), vestibular (workings of the inner which control our balance system) and interoception (system which tells our body what is going on inside – feeling hungry etc.) http://www.sensoryintegration.org.uk
Sensory integration professionals are particularly interested in the interaction between and development of the vestibular, proprioception, touch, vision, and hearing. This is because they are important (essential) in supporting our ability to use our body, concentrate, develop self-esteem and confidence as well as having self-control and academic skills.
Summertime gives you many opportunities to play lots of fun games with your babies and young children to promote and encourage this development. Sensory integration should be encouraged from birth. Infants will use their senses to start to understand and learn about the world around them. All the senses need to work together so they can move, learn and behave in a certain way.
Activities to encourage seeing, hearing, touching, smelling and tasting for your babies and little ones:
• Make a summer sensory basket with summer items – shells, leaves etc
• Playing in a sandpit, or paddling pool. You can hide items in the sandpit and see if they can find them
• Plant some vegetables, fruits with your child and eat them when they grow
• Plant some flowers, cress, grass seed with your child and watch them grow.
• Finger painting outside. For older children use sensory objects to make it more fun: tree bark, cut potatoes into shapes, stick on leaves and flowers.
• Sit in the garden listening to the birds, feeling the touch of the grass
• Allow lots of opportunity for your toddler to explore their garden or a local park