Using All the Senses - How Children Perceive the World
There's a line in my Aunt and Uncle's school program, "They need to feel it and taste it to try to figure out what it is!" My Aunt and uncle are marine biologists, underwater photographers, dive instructors, and teach school programs through their business, The Ocean Adventure. The quote refers to sharks, but they use it in an analogy about their young audience's baby siblings.
If you've been around a baby or young child, you know that everything goes in their mouths. In the first three years, the human brain is undergoing an immense organization project. In order to provide the brain with as much information as possible, young children use all of their senses to understand the world. It's important to allow children these sensory experiences (within limits - please don't let your kid lick a hospital floor) in order for them to appropriately categorize the world.
Taste and touch are not the only senses in use. In fact, you have far more than the five senses you were taught in school. Infants do use sight, hearing, and smelling too. However, of equal importance to the main five are the others. Including understanding where your body parts are in relation to each other, your ability to balance, feel pain, and sense temperature.
When we provide an enriching, experience-filled world for children, while still allowing them the time and space to explore on their own terms, we are helping them make more connections in their brains.