Sensory Play and Why It Is Important

At Play Learn Grow ECE we care so much about child development. The first five (5) years of life are the most critical in the development of a person. Therefore it is vital that the right activities are chosen for children.

This is why we are so saddened to see most other ECE centres not understanding this, and failing to appreciate the senses of pre-schoolers need stimulation, as this is learning and understanding.

At Play Learn Grow we use our vast experience and skillset to train children with sensory play. This starts right at the beginning when children cannot talk with our amazing Kiwi room for under 2 year olds, which is a Centre of Excellence that everyone is talking about the incredible experiences, nurturing and comfort they get. Our babies get exposed to items that are cold like ice, sticky and wet. This is of course age appropriate from our expert teachers.

Then the Pukeko room (predominantly two and three year olds) has some of the greatest kaiako (teachers) in Aoteoroa (New Zealand) in demonstrating sensory play. The Play Learn Grow philosophy is about delivering the best education to children to get the best results, as our pre-schoolers are our future, and they deserve the best. Whaea Shannon has a mastery of sensory play and as room leader has found the children love the increased exposure to items, as warm and hot things are introduced along with a multitude of fabrics and surfaces. With her expert team Shannon is able to introduce and build vocabulary in conjunction with these sensory experiences for the children. As a result the learning foundation is so strong, and the understanding the children get is reinforced through repetition in a fun way. This is just one reason why Play Learn Grow are the go to ECE Centre in West Auckland.

The Tui room (mainly over 4 year olds) have teachers that are able to work towards more complex tasks, where they strengthen language development, cultural identity, supporting brain development, cognitive growth and improving problem-solving skills. Rainbow rice can be lots of fun in sensory play – look at the amazing colour experience before they get mixed into the cupcake holders as the sounds of the rice dropping stimulates the ears, whilst improving critical fine motor skills.

Bird’s-eye view of a sensory bin. Inside, rice and other materials are arranged in rainbow order. Materials include popsicle sticks, baking papers, feathers, and straws—all in multiple colors—as well as clear cups, and a yellow tray holding colorful shape cutouts.

The transformation we see in our children from Play Learn Grow’s Sensory Development is amazing and gets rave reviews from Year 1 (and Year 0) Primary School Teachers.

Sensory Play: How To Guide

We have a large container called a sensory bin. This gives our preschoolers space to explore, suss out, feel the texture, measure it with their hands. Anxiety is reduced for the kids as they know the sensory bin can get messy – no worries!

In these strange Covid times it is doubly important to remember to wash your hand properly on both sides, between the fingers and thumbs too. This is to avoid spreading germs.

Whānau without the experience of our kaiako need to be aware when providing a sensory bin that younger children often like to put everything in their mouth to explore their sense of taste, so be very careful that things are okay to injest and remember small items can create a choking hazard. Supervision is required! We do things like putting cold water into the sensory bin. Then warm water. Then ice, and give it to them to feel it in their hands. Watch the look on their face. Hopefully they say cold, but otherwise teach them the word by saying cold to enhance the learning opportunity through sensory play.

We have multiple sensory bins, and realise some children do not like getting messy with other children, even their siblings! In addition at Play Learn Grow ECE we also have sensory boards with different textures for learning experiences.

Consider a sand (or salt) tray where you can write letters as the sand moves away, draw shapes. Your child can feel the sand and enhance learning experiences in a different and fun way.

Quick reminder: Just remember if you are going to get messy to dress your kids appropriately or wear an apron (or smock) to keep them clean.

Besides cleaning up together than be fun too. Making bubbles with soap or gentle cleaning products with warm running water just continues the sensory experiences, enhancing neural pathways to trigger and stimulate brain development.

You will be like us and notice the sensory activities your own children enjoy. With education one of the best things to do is having fun. Children are very smart and even if they don’t say it they pick up on your mood and energy (or lack of) levels. So be ware of this and their fast growing minds. And most importantly let them have fun!

Sensory Play Conclusion

Life is not a rehearsal whānau! If your child is not getting all of these teachings with sensory, then why are you settling for second best? You and your child deserves the best. Contact us on the online form now to connect with experience. Enquire about sensory play and your child’s individual learning plan with the best in the west at Play Learn Grow ECE.

Manaakitanga in ECE

Mā te huruhuru, ka rere te manu.

Adorn the bird with feathers, so it can fly. (Whakataukī – Māori proverb)

At Play Learn Grow early childcare education centre we have a number of kaiako (teachers) with māori whakapapa (ancestry). This is why we are so passionate about Te Whāriki. He Whāriki Mātauranga mō ngā Mokopuna o Aotearoa – the early childcare education curriculum for Aoteoroa (New Zealand).

We demonstrate manaakitanga which is a crucual Māori principle that is at the heart of Te Whāriki: He Whāriki Mātauranga mō ngā Mokopuna o Aotearoa. We consider manaakitanga to be the process of enhancing peoples mana, by showing care, respect, kindness and generosity for others.

Manaakitanga weaves in to the strands of the ECE curriculum. The Ministry of Education state: “Children’s learning and development are fostered if the well-being of their family and community is supported; if their family, culture, knowledge and community are respected; and if there is a strong connection and consistency among all the aspects of the child’s world”. This is where manaakitanga comes in looking at pre-schoolers well-being in a holistic sense.

Manaakitanga at Play Learn Grow ECE

We kōrero with children about sharing (why it is important, praising good behaviours, politely pointing out not such good behaviour), kaitiakitanga (caring for the environment, another tikanga māori principle), welcoming new whānau (mihi whakatau or shorted pōwhiri for whānau of bigger kids) and settling periods as tamariki transition from home to Play Learn Grow ECE, or from another centre. We teaching care and respect for other tamariki, for our outdoor play area resources and indoor resources. Our kaiako to guide tamariki to set ground rules, and we remind tamariki if or when there is a rule breach of the rules they contributed to setting.

We do a short karakia before eating lunch, as we are thankful for it, and we build and nurture strong relationship with parents and staff. Play Learn Grow teachers create an environment of respect where our highly skilled teachers develop tamariki to grow and develop physically, mentally, socially, whilst playing and learning.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic we had visited places in the community. I took my kids to a local rest home to bring smiles on the faces of the elderly. We reach out to local schools and visit them to ensure the transition is not too hard. We listen to concerns of parents about sending in children into school environments with many hundreds of children, and to ease concerns we keep children past age 5 (tamariki have to go to school by their 6th birthday though). During changes in Alert Levels we communicate with whānau and stay open to serve the needs of Auckland’s essential workers (without other childcare options), even when some other centres stay shut.

Play Learn Grow teachers have completed or are enrolled in the Incredible Years Programme on child behaviour and management techniques. This is best practice, which certainly not every centre has their staff doing. However this is an important for Play Learn Grow teachers as we strive to be the best ECE centre in West Auckland.

Manaakitanga is all about caring and support for tamariki (children) – pre-schoolers in Play Learn Grow ECE), whānau (family) and kaiako (teachers). The Play Learn Grow culture is just so special to be a part of, and manaakitanga being so engrained in it by our Centre Manager, fellow kaiako, whānau and of course our beautiful tamariki. This to me is what sets out Play Learn Grow as the best ECE centre in West Auckland, and the best out of so many I have worked up over many years.