Sensory Development: The Importance of Visual Stimulation
Extensive brain research, corroborated by The Lancet Series on advancing ECD, shows that 80% of a child's brain growth and synapse development occurs before the age of three years, and that sensory stimulation, unlike other developmental domains, has an optimal outcome window within the first year of life. The Lancet
While our Early Years are seeing all day anyway, it may seem like they’re getting all the sensory stimulation they need in that particular department. However, there’s always room for more!
By providing the children in our care with strong visual stimuli we can facilitate faster mental development. Around five months of age, children’s sight has reached the point where they can tell the difference between two shades of the same colour. However, they still prefer primary colours and contrasting images. Therefore, highly contrasting colours encourage babies to focus more.
Enriching visual stimulation facilitates early communication, demonstrates enhanced neural processing and provides a foundation for social development. The Royal College of Midwives
Studies have shown that multi-sensory experiences are more effective in developing children’s senses. For example, a sensory bottle that a child can hold and shake, as well as look at, will be much more interesting and beneficial to them than watching colours changing on something they can’t touch.
Need some ideas for sensory play that focuses on children’s visual development?
Colour-Mixing Sensory Bottle
What you will need:
- Oil-based food colouring (you can find some here)
- Water-based food colouring (you can find some here)
- Baby oil
- Clear plastic bottle (a 500ml drinks bottle with the label removed is perfect)
How to make:
Pour 250ml of water into the bottle. Add some water-based food colouring and shake to mix. Add more food colouring until the colour is bright enough.
- Pour 250ml of baby oil into a jug and add some oil-based food colouring. Use a whisk or mixer to fully mix the colour and oil together.
- Carefully pour the oil into the bottle. The oil should sit on top of the water until the bottle is shaken.
- Tightly fasten the lid on the bottle and secure with super glue to prevent leaking.
- Make sure you always use contrasting colours; for example, red and green, blue and orange or yellow and purple. You could always add some glitter to the mix for an extra bit of sparkle!