As parents, carers, and educators, it is our responsibility to ensure that children grow up learning and developing in the best possible way. One way we can do this is by understanding the different sensory systems that our bodies have. Most are familiar with our 5 main Sensory Systems: Vision, Touch, Sound, Smell and taste. But did you know there are another 3 sensory systems that are key to the way our children engage and interact with the world around them.
They are the vestibular, proprioceptive, and interoception systems. In this blog, we will take a more in-depth look at each system, how it works and how we can nourish them to help children learn and grow.
The Vestibular System
The vestibular system in our bodies controls our sense of balance and body movement. It is located in our inner ear and consists of small fluid-filled canals that help us to maintain our balance and spatial orientation. Activities that stimulate our vestibular system include swinging, spinning, and rolling. When a child participates in activities like these, they experience a sense of motion and balance that helps to regulate their behavior and emotions.
The Proprioceptive System
The proprioceptive system is located in our joints and muscles, and it is responsible for our ability to sense where our body is in space. It helps us to maintain body posture, coordination, and balance. Children who have difficulty with the proprioceptive system may bump into things, struggle with fine motor skills like tying shoes or handwriting and tend to have poor body awareness.
To help develop and nourish the proprioceptive system in children, we can encourage activities such as jumping, playing games that involve pushing/pulling, carrying heavy objects or playing on the monkey bars. These types of activities can help a child gain better control and awareness of their body.
The Interoception System
The interoception system is responsible for the internal regulation of our bodies, such as breathing, hunger, and thirst. It helps us to know when our body needs food, rest, or water, and informs us when we are feeling different sensations like pain, warmth, and cold. Children with strong interoceptive skills may have better emotional regulation, as they can detect and respond to their own internal cues more effectively.
To nourish the interoception system in children, we can encourage them to engage in activities that help them develop an internal sense of body cues. Examples include mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, and yoga.
Understanding our three "hidden" sensory systems is crucial to help our children grow and develop. By nourishing these systems through playful, physical activities, we can provide children with the tools they need to regulate their behavior, emotions and develop their overall sense of well-being. As parents, carers, and educators, we have the responsibility of ensuring that our children's sensory needs are met, so they can grow and thrive in the best way possible.