Whether we notice it or not, our senses help us notice the world around us and decide if we enjoy an experience or not. When it comes to childhood development, their senses are one of the most powerful ways for them to experience the world. Through hearing, sight, smell, taste and touch, children are able to understand and communicate about the world around them.
Right from the moment a child is born, their senses play a key role in learning the world around them. Through touch, they are able to differentiate their parents’ grip from any other. Through taste, they know their mother’s milk and are nourished by it. Through smell, they can tell when their loved ones are near and are soothed by their presence. Through hearing, they can listen to lullabies and through sight, they get familiar with their surroundings.
As children grow older, their senses grow with them and their view of the world is expanded. Once children start to notice their perception of the world through their senses, they become a very powerful tool for teaching and helping children understand.
Children use their sense of hearing to take in information about the world around them. Developing good listening habits from a young age helps children become better learners, better thinkers and makes them more successful in life. Some of the ways that hearing can be enhanced in children includes playing listening games to test if they can follow instructions and recognize sounds.
By using their sight, children are able to recognize words, patterns, and objects which helps them to develop their memory. This sense can be enhanced by playing simple sight games such as I-Spy games and asking them about the various things they can see around them. Puzzles are also very good for children to solve as it makes them pay key attention to what they can see and helps them work on their visual skills. It also improves their memory skills.
For children, the sense of smell allows them to perceive their environment differently. Over time, children recognize certain smells as good or bad. Certain smells are also able to trigger a reaction or a memory for the child. One of the ways children learn through smell is by being able to recognize familiar scents and where they belong during Smell and Match games.
Children develop taste preferences when they are young from what they are fed. This helps them to determine what is good or bad to eat. Taste also helps in memory as children can remember the feeling associated with the food. By doing a taste test, children are encouraged to try out new food combinations and explore their world on a different level.
Touch helps children to learn about their bodies and how to communicate with others. We feel most with our hands and feet, and it is from this that children learn to do simple things like write, tie shoelaces, ride a bike and many others. When a child focuses on what he/she is feeling, they are able to learn about many different things and express themselves better.
Parents can play a huge role in nurturing their children’s senses by providing a sensory stimulating environment for their children. This includes games, puzzles and books that enhance these senses. Storymoja has a collection of stories for ECD-class 1 readers known as the I-Series that uses the senses to help children learn. Find them today HERE .
By Maureen Wambui