Learning about the world can be tough for some young children, particularly ones who have sensory issues or disorders. But the senses can be used to help ground them, and there are a variety of toys and items that can do just that. So when it comes to heading to school — a big time of change, and not just in regards to their schedule — they may need some help to keep calm (and stop fidgeting). A sensory kit is one way to help them. In putting together their sensory kit, first consider what sort of toys your children tend to gravitate towards at home, especially when they’re upset or in need of comfort.
Light Up Toys
Light up toys come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and textures. Many of them too also help your child develop some tactile, or touch, awareness. For example, if it’s a ball, they can roll them and develop their hand-eye coordination. At the same time, it can also keep their hands busy, which means less fidgeting.
Weighted Lap Pad
If your child has a hard time sitting still, or has the “wiggles,” a weighted lap pad may be a good option. The pressure of the lap pad can be calming, and since many of them are decorative, it can also give them something to focus on while working on sitting still. In the same respect they can be teachable, too, if they’re decorated in animals, or objects that the kids can learn to identify. Other alternatives to the lap pad include a wiggle cushion, or beanbag cushion.
Toys For Busy Fingers
If your kids’ hands always seem to be moving, toys can be a wonderful way to help them calm down and fidget less, and in turn help to relieve stress so that it is easier for them to focus in the classroom. For example, there are lots of wooden toys that can be easily manipulated and turned, all while holding their attention. Rubbery toys are also great for busy fingers, especially ones that can be connected or intertwined, as well as stacked, etc. Not only will it help them focus, but they’ll also be developing their motor coordination.
Chewing Fidget Toys
If your child is prone to chewing (or even biting), a great sensory toy to always have on hand would be a safe chewing/fidget toy. There’s a whole variety of these toys available; just make sure they’re safe to chew on. Many are dentist approved. One example of this is rainbow tubing that’s been knotted together, and works well when your child has the urge to chew; it also doubles as a fidgeting toy. Necklaces designed for chewing also work well.
Noise reduction headphones
For children who are prone to sensory overload, and need less distractions, make sure to have a set of noise reduction headphones on hand. They can be used whenever children need quiet, no matter what environment they may be in.
All of the above are ideas to get you started in creating a sensory kit for your child when they head back to school. While you can, and are encouraged, to create this box on your own, be sure to also get the input from the child’s teacher as well. They’ll have a special insight into what your child needs, especially once they’re in the classroom.
Liz SanFilippo Hall is a freelance writer, who enjoys trying new foods from all over the world. But her favorite city for culinary treats will always be Chicago. When not blogging about food, she’s working part-time at a culinary vacation company, The International Kitchen, based in the Windy City, as well as repping Younique cosmetics and skincare products. Some of her writing can be found at Examiner.com.