Create a Stimulating Environment

Every child learns and grows differently. This has become even more evident to me as my

Heather Von Bevern, MD

Heather Von Bevern, MD

two daughters grow up. My older daughter never had interest in toys or electronics. She was never one to just sit and play, she wanted to be entertained constantly. Since doing laundry and washing dishes is not terribly interesting (to me or to her), I had to find other ways to provide her with a stimulating environment. Then we discovered sensory boxes.

A sensory box is a way to stimulate children’s senses and teach them about the world around them. We started with a box containing different types of dry beans and a scoop from the dollar store. She sat on the floor in the kitchen with the box of beans and some empty bowls where she spent almost an hour scooping beans from the box to the bowls, and back again. This type of “transfer work” helps build fine motor skills, as well as developing her senses. Through her toddlerhood, we had a variety of sensory boxes including boxes with sand, colorful pompom balls, leaves, and dry pasta. Some parents get creative with their sensory boxes and have themes for the week and include a variety of different inexpensive objects. Holiday themes, seasons, colors and letters, are just a few of the themes that provide not only a thrilling experience for your toddler, but also educational experiences as well.

My younger daughter has a different take on sensory boxes. She loves to dump the beans on the floor. She will scoop a few beans into a bowl, then dump the bowl over her head. This leads to a different kind of learning: learning to clean up our mess. My girls each have a small brush and dust pan (also from the dollar store) that they use to clean up the beans when they are done.

For toddlers, every new experience is a learning experience. Realize that as your child is dumping beans on the floor, there is a lesson that can be learned from this. It may feel defeating and frustrating to have to clean up yet another mess, but maintaining a positive attitude and using the moment as a teaching experience will help your child grow and develop into a healthy, responsible kid.

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