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The Pros and Cons of Sensory Learning for Children

Harriet Senses

Not all children gain the maximum benefit from structured, universal learning methods. For some, having a range of unique learning opportunities helps them to develop the core skills needed as they progress through the educational system and enter into the world of work. One popular method is sensory learning, which encourages kids to stimulate their motor skills and cognitive functions in a constructive, hands-on way.

In this guide, we’ll explore exactly what sensory learning is and discuss some of the benefits and potential pitfalls of this style. With so many different ways to introduce sensory learning and play into the classroom, could it be the right approach for you?

What is sensory learning?

Sensory learning enables children to explore the world around them and to experience things firsthand. By utilising their senses, kids can experience new environments, materials and textures that help enrich their understanding of the world. This type of learning, which forgoes the traditional lecture-style teaching approach, encourages critical thinking and insights into the cause-and-effect relationships between things that are experienced through sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste.

Sensory learning encourages a child’s exploration of the environment without fear or consequence. As such, it helps kids understand more effectively how things work and become comfortable in different environments. Plus, kids typically find this way of learning more enjoyable – giving them an enhanced enthusiasm for education.

The pros

While sensory learning won’t suit every child, it can offer many benefits to those who find it engaging. Sensory learning allows children to use their five senses to better conceptualise thoughts, explore unfamiliar concepts, and reinforce knowledge in ways that traditional methods can’t. It also lets kids unleash their creativity in new and imaginative ways, allowing them to experience exciting challenges that call for innovative solutions.

Additionally, sensory or experiential learning may help some children to remember concepts longer than traditional textbook-based courses, which can help them form a strong foundation of skills well into adulthood. Overall, sensory learning is an invaluable advantage that all kids should experience during their education.

The cons

Sensory learning has become an increasingly popular way of teaching children, but it could have drawbacks. For instance, while this method is successful in teaching some kids who struggle to learn in traditional ways, it might also have the potential of creating dependence on sensory input and therefore keep the student from developing functional independence.

What’s more, using tactile or auditory methods exclusively can be costly and time-consuming, making it a less accessible option for all students and educational institutions. As a result, educators must weigh the pros and cons carefully when deciding whether or not to incorporate sensory learning into their curriculum.

To get the maximum benefit from sensory learning, it should be used alongside other methods, to provide children with a more balanced approach to learning. By using their senses as a tool for learning, children are able to form more meaningful connections with the natural world from an early age, which benefits both the planet and the children themselves.

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The author

Harriet enjoys going on hikes and connecting with nature with her two Labradors. Though she enjoys being vegan, she is adventurous and enjoys trying out new food. Skilled in PR, creative media, and content strategies to assist brands and companies in developing and enhancing their online presence. Primary competency: - Market and audience insight - Campaign planning and strategy - Digital initiatives that result in 'earned' media attention that is organic.

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