Lincolnshire County Council (LCC) provides Early Years Entitlement funding for children aged two, three and four years old. In March 2019 we successfully secured Capital Grant Funding from Lincolnshire County Council to extend one of our rooms, this funding has enabled us to begin alterations to the current facility, which will increase the capacity of our current Early Years setting. This has enabled us to provide additional places required to help meet the needs required within the local community, as demonstrated within the LCC, Sufficiency Report (2017). Thus, allowing families to access or increase working hours, as well as to help provide places for children within the area who need it most. The room we are improving is a sensory space throughout connecting the indoors and outdoors together, offering natural based resources connecting with nature, as well as a therapeutic space for children to take some well-earned time out from their busy nursery day. The space has been divided into three main sensory experiences;
When children explore with their imagination, they begin to learn new ways of talking about the world, they can explore new characters and create new environments, or rein-act the adult world. As children explore and process what is going to happen next their language development begins to grow, and they recognise how to communicate effectively. Using sensory resources and props in unrestricted Imaginative play enhances children’s learning and engages different areas of the brain. As children move freely with confidence, they start to absorb and retain more information, develop problem-solving and decision-making skills, which can increase opportunity for choice and self-determination improving on opportunities to support individual growth and development.
Engaging a child in creative sensory play using all their senses (Hearing, sight, smell, touch and taste) helps strengthen their brain development for learning, which enhances their memory and ability to complete more complex learning tasks. A sensory space where children can explore natural resources creatively; making mud pies, planting vegetables and herbs, looking after Peter Rabbits Garden, build to get water from one place to another, etc) can encourage children to engage and explore their environment. this in can have a positive effect on their ability to react and interact with the larger world around them, promoting cognitive development by increased brain function and improving creativity. As children explore sensory spaces, they can improve motor development and spatial orientation (Spatial awareness), including hand-eye coordination, fine manipulative skills and gross motor skills. Helping to focus their attention improving communication and Language skills.
Therapeutic Sensory Play
Therapeutic sensory play helps to promote mental and physical relaxation, stress levels drop, resulting in more calmness and lower aggressive behaviours. The calming effect of sensory play helps children to interact with others effectively, this enables children to develop skills such as sharing and building new relationships. Nursery environments can often be quite busy with a lot of stimulation, Sensory environments using items such as sensory lights, light up toys, therapy balls, bubbles etc can help and anxious or restless child as they can be highly absorbing, providing a moment of comfort and calm for overactive and distressed individuals, and help them to feel better engaged.
Sensory experiences are a vital tool in a child’s development and provide the fundamentals that create opportunities for children to build on their knowledge, thought and creativity (Sue Gascoyne, 2011).