Sensing through Sight, Sound, Skin

November 30, 2016

 

 Who can resist cuddling a baby? Offering your finger to her, knowing that she will curl hers tightly around it? Tapping her on the chin gently, to watch her break into a smile? Our first communication with a newborn is through touch.

 

The sense of touch is a baby’s keenest sense that starts to develop, in utero, after about 8 weeks of pregnancy.Movements in the womb, after the first trimester, are the first explorations of her environment. The newborn is highly sensitive and responsive to touch. She starts to learn about the external world through touching and feeling the texture, shape and size of objects that come her way. When the mother offers her breast for the baby to suckle, the mouth becomes the tactile organ for explorations.

 

 

Second only to the sense of touch, you would have guessed, is the sense of hearing. You would have observed expectant mothers, and fathers (let’s not leave the Dads out!),cooing to their yet-to-be-born children or enjoying listening to their favorite music ‘together’.Even though it’s dark on the inside, and the ears are barely formed, sounds do reach the foetus, through the air – albeit with a muffled, underwater quality– and through the mother’s body:the swoosh of air into the lungs or gas gurgling in the stomach. Once outside, the infant will, very quickly, start responding to sudden, loud sounds. Try shaking the rattle in your right hand, as you lean over the crib, and the infant’s head will turn left, towards the sound.

Second only to the sense of touch, you would have guessed, is the sense of hearing. You would have observed expectant mothers, and fathers (let’s not leave the Dads out!),cooing to their yet-to-be-born children or enjoying listening to their favorite music ‘together’.Even though it’s dark on the inside, and the ears are barely formed, sounds do reach the foetus, through the air – albeit with a muffled, underwater quality– and through the mother’s body:the swoosh of air into the lungs or gas gurgling in the stomach. Once outside, the infant will, very quickly, start responding to sudden, loud sounds. Try shaking the rattle in your right hand, as you lean over the crib, and the infant’s head will turn left, towards the sound.

 

 

 

The peek-a-boo will have to wait till after the fourth month of life, when the baby's vision will improve. After all, she has been in the dark for nine months. The senses of taste and smell follow soon after and, along with feeling and hearing, start to merge into a whole. With this sensory integration babies start to recognize objects and people,sights and sounds become ‘familiar’. We have seen 7-month-olds start to cry, with all their might, when they see the mother leave, after dropping them off at the crèche. It means that they can, between 6-9 months, perceive the absence of the mother and, by implication, create memories. This is a skill called object permanence. We have got to throw in some jargon!

 

 

 

At 9-12 months, babies love to move around and the pace of life quickens. A special relationship with family members is building up and the understanding that the baby in the mirror might be her. ‘Clapping hands’ or ‘Bye bye’ is now a favorite game too! And the moment she is up and about – anytime around her first birthday – you have to start making your house baby-proof!  She can’t stop herself from touching anything that looks interesting. Her fine motor skills are improving quickly. She can pick up an object with her thumb and fingers; she pokes and points with her finger; she bangs things together and transfers objects from one hand to the other. She cannot, however, control putting things down and often she has to drop the object to release it from her grasp. So get your crash helmets out – the baby can throw!

 

At 9-12 months, babies love to move around and the pace of life quickens. A special relationship with family members is building up and the understanding that the baby in the mirror might be her. ‘Clapping hands’ or ‘Bye bye’ is now a favorite game too! And the moment she is up and about – anytime around her first birthday – you have to start making your house baby-proof!  She can’t stop herself from touching anything that looks interesting. Her fine motor skills are improving quickly. She can pick up an object with her thumb and fingers; she pokes and points with her finger; she bangs things together and transfers objects from one hand to the other. She cannot, however, control putting things down and often she has to drop the object to release it from her grasp. So get your crash helmets out – the baby can throw!

Children (and adults) learn best and retain the most information when they engage their senses. Many of our favorite memories are associated with one or more of our senses: for instance, the smell of your mother’s cooking or a song you memorized the lyrics to with a childhood friend. Now, when your nostrils and eardrums are stimulated with those familiar smells and sounds, respectively, your brain triggers a flashback memory to those special times.

 

 

 By giving children the opportunity to investigate materials with no preconceived knowledge, you’re helping them develop and refine their cognitive, social and emotional, physical, creative and linguistic skill sets. Here’s how:  deciding how to build a boat that will float, or how to make sand stick together. In addition, children can build math skills such as comparing size (big versus small), counting and one-to-one correspondence (matching numbers to objects), timing (does water or oil move faster?), matching (same sizes and shapes), and sorting and classifying (buttons, beans or rice), and science skills such as cause and effect (what happens when I add water to sand?), gravity (water slides down a funnel, not up. Without realizing it, children grow into amateur scientists by making predictions and observations, and even develop analysis skills.

 

 So, now we know that for children- senses are their most familiar, basic way to explore and understand new information. Sensory play is really a part of the scientific process, where children develop a question and it leads them to investigate – by grabbing, smelling, listening, rubbing – attempting to answer their own questions. Believing in this process, Mobile Creches has developed a curriculum which emphasizes on learning through meaningful experience. Curriculum specially designed for Under 3’s has specifies activities for one and a half and 3 years focusing on age appropriate activities developing their activities. We use lot of musical objects for children to recognize sounds by listening to Dholak, Daphli, Clap, snapping etc. Children at our centres also develop the sense of touch by touching wet and dry towel (See image 1), hard and soft objects. Similarly to develop their sense of taste we ask our children to taste sugar, salt and lemon (See image 2). Thus, as we talk with them about what they are observing and sensing, we give them new language tools to connect with these more familiar sensory tools, building language as well as supporting cognitive concepts specific to the experience.

 

 

 

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