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3 Things Early Childcare Assistants Need to Know About Sensory Awareness

By October 19, 2016 July 11th, 2019 No Comments
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Sensory awareness, or the act of noticing a particular sensation, can be interesting and surprising. Whether becoming aware of the blueness of a clear sky or the softness of a new shirt, these moments of awareness are often pleasant, and can let people experience familiar things in new ways.

For young children, developing senses lead to many of these kinds of moments, and this presents both opportunities and challenges for early childcare assistants.

If you’re curious about how sensory awareness can affect the way you interact with children in your workplace, here are a couple of points you might consider.

1. Considering an Early Childcare Assistant Career? Sensory Play Is Great Stimulation for Kids

Play time doesn’t need to be about “doing,” necessarily. Kids spend a lot of time in a state of sensory awareness, and can get lots of value out of simply experiencing their different senses.
PBS points out that “Children… learn best and retain the most information when they engage their senses,” and states that investigative play time—time during which kids can touch, play with, and explore an object—helps “develop and refine cognitive, social and emotional, physical, creative, and linguistic skill sets.”

Guiding children to play in ways that engage different senses is a great way to help them develop their minds. Consider playing music together, introducing different play materials like “oobleck,” or playing with shadow puppets to get kids to engage with their senses.

2. Future Early Childhood Assistants: Sensory Awareness Can Be Embarrassing for Some Kids

It might not seem like a big deal, but “getting caught” enjoying sensory stimulation like listening to a favourite song or touching a soft fabric can be embarrassing for some people. If you’re thinking about pursuing an early childcare assistant career, this is a good thing to keep in mind.

In a paper entitled “Sensory Awareness,” written for the University of Nevada’s Department of Psychology, researchers speculate that the reason for this potential embarrassment is that sensory awareness is typically a reaction to “what feels good… in a very sensual way,” and “sensual interests are intensely personal.”

The best approach to deal with this embarrassment will be different from child to child, but knowing the potential for this phenomenon will be helpful when going into the classroom.

3. Children With Disorders May React Differently to Sensory Awareness

Though sensory awareness can often be a pleasant experience, for some children—particularly those with developmental disabilities that have affected their sensory system—they can present a challenge.

According to Autism.com, for some children, “Sometimes one or more senses are either over- or under-reactive to stimulation.” which can lead to “behaviors like rocking, spinning, and hand-flapping.”

For example, once you become an early childcare assistant, if you see a child cover their ears when music plays, then they might be oversensitive to sound. Children who are undersensitive, on the other hand, might seek out loud noises or other sensory experiences. By being aware of these reactions to sensory awareness, you can adapt your lessons accordingly.

Sensory awareness can be great fun, and is an essential part of childhood cognitive development. It also poses a few challenges that future childcare assistants might want to keep in mind while working alongside kids.

Are you considering an early childcare assistant diploma to put yourself on the path to a rewarding career?

Contact an advisor at Anderson College today to discover more!

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