How do I ensure that my child uses all the senses to the optimum?

There is a chance that as the child grows she may slowly reduce the use of one or more of the senses, limiting the potential of the brain. As a parent you can inculcate certain habits in your children that will last a lifetime.

1. Teach them to see and not just look: Bring out patterns, styles, minor perfections in things. This will teach them to observe and not just glance at things.

2. Teach them to hear and not just listen: Read aloud whenever they are exposed to something new. Even reading a passage from a newspaper will help. Play good music and encourage them to pay attention to the lyrics and enjoy the intricacies of music. Music is known to develop a very strong bank of emotions.

3. Teach them to write down stuff: Get your children to maintain a diary. Let them write thank you notes or letters to loved ones. Encourage them to write stories, poems, and notes in class. The more they write, the better things get etched in the memory and the better the sensory integration as this involves vision, hand movement, and thought.

4. Draw, sketch, map things out: The more they learn schematic representation, the more aware they become of clues that will tell them what to look out for when they are observing things.

5. Creative visualization: Imagination is a strong tool. The more developed the power of imagination in a child, the better equipped he is to deal with the abstract. Once he develops the skill of visualizing abstract concepts, such as when your child reads a storybook he visualizes the setting of the story, he will find it easier to deal with reality. In the movie Baby’s Day Out, the baby is able to relate to all the places he goes to because he has seen the pictures of these places. When the picture in the mind matches the picture in reality, identification become easier.

6. Children enjoy research: Take them through books; show them images on the Internet. Give them a project and let them search for information. The fun of hunting for information and the joy at finding it gives them a heightened level of achievement.

7. Encourage mind games: like crosswords, Sudoku, joining the dots, fi nding the differences, etc.

8. Let them question: Do not rebuke them. Only a questioning mind thrives. Give your child every opportunity to imbibe the best through all the senses. If we analyze our religious practices, irrespective of what they are, we will notice that each one gives equal emphasis to all the senses. The fragrance of the incense sticks, the touch of water and earth, the flavours of different food items, the sounds of the bells, and the cries of worship… all cater to each one of the senses. Besides the religious element attached to these and you will see the science and rationale behind why these rituals exist.