This article was contributed by SEN4You, a UK provider of legal advice, representation and support for SEN children and their families.

All children should have the opportunity to excel and succeed from as early on as possible. Research has shown that sensory play is one of the most effective methods in educating kids from a young age, helping them develop essential social skills, speech and learning.

For those children with special educational needs (SEN), sensory play is particularly valuable in assisting with their personal development and as such, there are several benefits in this type of learning for SEN pupils.

  • Social development

By incorporating sensory play into the classroom, we encourage children with additional needs to communicate and engage with their classmates in a more stress-free, natural way. Integrating a sand pit or sensory table within the classroom/playground is therefore great in encouraging children of all abilities to play together, while developing their language skills and helping with the often challenging social interaction between SEN pupils and their peers.

  • Concentration and stress relief

Giving a child with added needs something to play with, such as a fidget spinner or chew necklace, can help the child better concentrate and also relieve stress or anxiety. These toys are often used for sensory stimulation, to distract the child from undesirable habits like finger biting, for example. The main aim is to calm the child and attempt better focus in the classroom.

  • Happiness

A child’s senses are their simplest way to discover, process and comprehend new information. It’s a fact that all children love to play and any good learning environment will encourage kids to do so by ensuring there are plenty of fun, hands-on objects and activities for a child to utilise. The more sensory toys there are for a SEN pupil to explore, the happier they will likely be within that learning environment, giving them a better chance to integrate and flourish.

  • Physical

Educational and emotional benefits aside, there are also several physical advantages of sensory classroom play for SEN pupils. Sensory play helps a child improve their fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination and body and spatial awareness, all of which are essential for a child’s positive growth.