How sensory rice kit helped my 2 year old?
From birth until about three years of age, the child is in the phase of the unconscious absorbent mind, during which a child explores the environment through the senses and through movement. (Montessori, 1984)
'Wow! What is this?' Were the words of my 16 month old daughter when she was first introduced to rainbow rice. She gave it a stir, scooped it, sprinkled and tossed it around. She seemed to enjoy the texture, the sound that rice made and of course the bold and vibrant colours. Green! She'd say picking up a single grain of rice. This multi-sensory play object was an instant hit.
Most millennial parents have already heard about sensory play and it's numerous benefits. Let's quickly go through some of them.
- Sensory play is known to strengthen the neural connections in the pathway of the brain resulting in the ability to focus longer.
- Pinching, sifting, scattering and manipulating sensory material through fingers and hands improves a child's fine motor skills. This results in the much required finger muscle strength empowering children and making them self-sufficient -- fastening a zip, buttoning a shirt, using utensils are a few examples of toddler independence.
- Sensory play is open-ended play where the process of exploration is more important than the end result. Since there is no right or wrong way to play, the process of self exploration sparks creativity and imagination.
There are several other benefits such as problem solving, introduction to early math concepts, language development, social and emotional development etc but in this article I'll be talking about sensory play for self regulation and comfort.
Sensory materials can be used to help children manage feelings of anger and anxiety. (Chivers and Cole, 2006)
My daughter started playschool when she was 16 months old, Even though she was spending only an hour, she would often come back dysregulated. She would only want to cuddle, and get triggered if she was put down to play. It's only then that I decided that I'd give rainbow rice a chance. I had previously read so many books and articles about rice play and it's benefits but in reality I was a skeptical and exhausted mother. What if my daughter mouthed it? What if she made a huge mess? I had to silence these thoughts and trust the studies. I realised that I as a parent had to regulate my own emotions before I could help my child. I understood that the benefits outweigh the post play work for the parent.
I presented rainbow rice to my baby once she was back from school. I watched as she ran her fingers through the rice, she observed and examined, scooped and transferred, she grabbed a fistful and let it drop slowly. She was amused by the sound that the rice made as it scattered on the wooden tray. She named a few colours on her own. I watched her calm down minute by minute and regulate her feelings slowly. I soon had my joyful baby back. Contrary to my fears, the mess she had made was cleaned up in 2 mins. This versus me spending hours trying to calm her in my arms. She did not mouth the rice the first time, but she did eventually -- this is natural for babies. It's our responsibility to clean them up calmly and redirect their behaviour.
Now, everytime I need to comfort my baby or if I want to enjoy a hot cup of coffee, we give my daughter rainbow rice. It's a win-win for both mommy and baby.
Credits to Sneha Caroline for sharing this real story with us!