|When I quit my job to stay home with my then 13-month-old daughter, I began to read childhood enrichment articles to learn how to teach her. I was most
intrigued by the ideas and tips to stimulate her imagination, creativity, and intelligence through simple sensory input.
She had recently begun walking, so I thought to take her on a morning walk when the Houston air was not too stifling. Emerging from our front door, we
toddled down one step, and, literally and figuratively, she and I took off from there.
Barefoot, to experience temperature, texture and input to her sense of balance, we crossed from the warm cement to a shady sidewalk running between the
apartments. I stooped to her level to experience what she was sensing. What a different perspective my daughter was treated to! I pointed out shadows and
patterns on buildings and grass, butterflies on bright flowers, and ants scurrying across the sidewalk into the grooves of the cement. I narrated and labeled
everything that caught her eye, and pointed out objects and sounds for her to notice. I taught her to be quiet and listen-to the hum of insects, to voices in
various languages, to car motors on the street and planes overhead.
Every day, as we walked along that sidewalk, my daughter’s powers of observation, vocabulary, and communication increased. She became an adept
communicator, voicing her thoughts and questions almost continuously.
We were in the swimming pool, where she felt the pressure and the coolness of water and bubbles against her skin. I sang songs, dipped her back and forth,
and bounced her on my lap. We looked up at the cloud-painted sky, the sun through the tree leaves, and trails made by jets using Houston International
Eventually, we began taking the stroller to her Daddy’s office building. On the way, I would point out police cars, city and school buses, and the pigeons that
lived under Beltway 8. We would stop at business buildings along the way, enjoying the cool breeze and the dancing display of light on water in the courtyard
fountains. Above us, we could hear the birds singing and watch them, balancing on the overhead wire and flying from one tree-lined side of the road to the
Some days, we sat outside and lined up rocks according to size and color, introducing her to adding, subtracting, categorizing, and collecting concepts. I
stroked her face, feet, arms and elbows with leaves and petals of different textures.
In our town home, I put a gate on the third step so she could practice ascending and descending the stairs. At mealtimes, she ate at her high-chair in front of
our sliding glass doors, perpendicular to a full-length mirror along the length of the wall. I would point out the rainbows formed by the light hitting the beveled
glass, creating a rainbow line, up from the floor, to the table and onto the wall. She and I delighted in playing Peek-a-Boo with the rainbow, making it
I constantly labeled everything I was doing, touching, seeing, and hearing. I encouraged her to touch, see and hear, as well. This was the beginning of my
daughter’s sensory experiences and of my growing belief in how vital these experiences were to her development.
I found this attention to sensory input to be essential when my son was born with congenital adrenal hyperplasia and almost complete agenesis of the corpus
callosum. The corpus callosum connects the left and right brain hemispheres, and my self-defined sensory stimulation program was extremely beneficial. I
carried him around in a Dr. Sears Baby Sling, keeping him close to my body so he could feel my movement and heartbeat. Further, I incorporated a flexibility
program for him, singing, “Wheels on the Bus” while crossing his arms and over his trunk and midline, and raising his arms over his head. My son joined our
excursions at about three months old, riding face up to the sky, taking in the sights, sounds, language and sensory input of the environment. I continued his
sister’s program and added special age-appropriate touches for his needs to help his brain re-structure itself, creating new connections that would otherwise be
lacking. When he grew bigger but still could not walk, I invested in a forward facing baby carrier to allow him to continuously observe his sister as well as his
My children have grown into a high-functioning first grader and preschooler. My son is doing so well that the local school refuses to provide enrichment
services to preclude developmental delay. I have grown into a sensory stimulation advocate and believe it is truly the one basic method that all parents and
caregivers can incorporate daily to ensure maximum intellectual benefits for developing children.
Tapping into The Senses