Often parents think of sensory development as an infant thing. Infants do take in an awful lot of sensory information as they begin processing this information and learning the environment around them. This process continues throughout the toddler stage and is just as important at this age as it was then.
Sensory development is instrumental in language development. Toddlers are beginning to connect images with words. The senses allow this to happen. Without sticking their hand in mud or paint, how would a toddler know what is meant by the word ‘squishy?” Without listening to different musical instruments how can you accurately describe the difference between the sound of a piano and the sound of a drum?
Sensory development is also crucial in helping a toddler achieve body awareness. They organize the sensations they feel when pushing or pulling, balancing and moving weighted objects. Without these activities children are not able to accurately identify how their body moves in space and will not be able to organize their thoughts into an accurate picture of themselves and their body.
So while all these activities may look like play there is some serious learning going on! You may be tempted to stop you little one from jumping in that puddle or trying to balance on the raised ledge of a flower bed, but just remember all of the important things they are learning!