developMent oF the SenSeS: the preSchool YearS
how senses Develop
Perceptual development, or the development of
the interpretation of sensorial information (sound,
sight, touch, taste, and kinesthesia), doesn’t just hap-
pen the way that growing taller does. Children have
to be able to interpret the signals their eyes, ears,
skin, nose, and body bring to them and to use the
information. This ability is a kind of intelligence.
Like all other knowledge, sense stimuli have to be
experienced in a variety of ways to bring meaning
to the sensation. Just hearing a noise is not enough.
The ear may hear the sound, but unless the brain
interprets the information and relates it to some-
thing, the sound is meaningless. Understanding a
sound comes from knowing its cause or source.
All children should have daily activities that
stimulate every sense. Activities for an older child
often limit sensory input to seeing and hearing. Yet,
only through the interplay of all senses can a child
learn to the fullest. The exception to this would
be taste: most older children do not put objects
in their mouths to taste them. They rely on their
other senses for information about the objects. They
mainly use their mouths and tongue to taste, not
feel as infants and toddlers do. Often adults must
incorporate sensory activities into the preschool
environment to ensure that all senses are stimu-
lated every day. Conversations during snack- and
mealtimes need to hone in on the taste and texture
of foods. Preschoolers can be encouraged to identify
smells and textures of their foods. If the stimuli are
not naturally in the classroom, bring them in so that
the senses aren’t neglected. Children will delight in
exploring temperatures and textures of foods such
as a smooth apple, a cold banana, or a bumpy orange
rind with their tongues. Some foods are sticky, some
soothing, and others crunchy. Your imagination and
creativity can expand on these ideas.
hearing Hearing is refined during the preschool years. Lis-
tening skills are very important for language acqui-
sition. Vocabulary and enunciation are dependent
upon listening. Hearing the phonemes and syl-
lables in words is directly related to the ability to
read. Illness and infections affect hearing, so chil-
dren need to have their hearing checked annually.
p r e S c h o o l ac t i v i t i e S
› use task-centered talking to describe activities as
children go about their daily routine. use simple sentences for younger children; expand and make
the sentences more complex using descriptive vocabulary as children grow.
› use tone and pitch to express feelings.
d e v e l o p M e n t o F t h e S e n S e S 19