Some children seek out touch and movement more than others. Often these are the kids that have higher activity levels. They may want to swing highest on the swing and will likely find jumping in a mud puddle great fun.
Other kids find too much touch and movement uncomfortable. These children may actually require more guidance and nudging to investigate their environment and feel safe while doing so.
Whether your child is a seeker of activity or more tentative about exploring the world, here are a few activities you can do at home that will be fun and beneficial for your child’s sense of the world.
- Water Play—Fill the kitchen sink or a tub with water (or sudsy water) and add objects galore. A variety of unbreakable measuring cups, pitchers, bottles, sponges, basters, or eggbeaters will do. Not only will your child be entertained, his or her tactile system will be activated.
- Sand Play—In a sandbox or Tupperware container filled with sand encourage your child to add small toy trucks, cars, people, and critters. These objects can be buried, rediscovered, arranged, and rearranged. If you are brave enough to add water, a wet sand pile can be fun and offers an additional texture.
- Feely Bag—Put various objects—such as marbles, little plastic animals, small airplanes, spools of thread, erasers, paper clips, or whatever you might have at home that is safe for your child’s investigation—into a little bag. Then let your child put one hand in the bag and try to guess what object she has grabbed without looking at it. This will help your child learn to differentiate the form of one object from another without the use of vision.
- Swinging—Encourage your child to swing (though forcing your child to swing is not recommended). If your child is tentative about swinging, try a swing that is low, so he can touch his feet to the ground, or simply hold your child on your lap as you gently swing back and forth. The gentle, linear movement of the swinging motion is therapeutic.
- Rocking—If you can provide a rocking chair for your child, he or she can get energized, organized, or tranquilized, depending on the rocking rhythm. (To “organize” in this context refers to regulating responses. When kids rock, for example, they are learning to regulate their response to and influence upon the back-and-forth rocking.)
- Stair Clambering—Your child can go up the stairs and down the stairs . . . over and over again. Such clambering exercises the vestibular system, otherwise known as balance and spatial orientation.